Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Center Bulletin, Vol. 3, Issue 30

Volume 3, Issue 30
May 9, 2007

Total Number of Visitors Since October 2004: 279,613

40 Years of a Unified Jerusalem:

Events Open with Songs of the Underground

Festivities to mark the 40th anniversary of the liberation and unification of Jerusalem were opened at the Begin Center at an evening of songs of Jerusalem and the Underground fighting units who were in the long struggle for Jerusalem from before 1948. The Reuben Hecht Auditorium was packed to absolute capacity.

Veterans and many younger people mingled and sang together under the direction of Yehuda Blecher.

The event also marked 25 years since the passing of the poet and songwriter Shlomo Skulski, whose daughter Edia initiated and organized this special occasion which started at 8:00pm and ended at 10:00pm. The participants wanted to go on longer and dispersed slowly and happily after the closing.

Many events will take place all over the city before and on Jerusalem Day with the Begin Center a very popular attraction for many visitors who will be here on this festive occasion.

30 Years after "The Upheaval"

As we indicated some weeks ago, this year, 2007, is connected with the political career and national leadership of Menachem Begin and next week a major event will be marked and celebrated in various parts of the country. It is 30 years after the "Mahapach—The Upheaval" that took place on May 17, 1977, the date of the election for the 9th Knesset. On that day, Menachem Begin and the Likud came to power for the first time, ending more than 40 years of socialist rule in the Yishuv and in Israel. All the dire predictions that a Likud victory would lead to an internal physical struggle were totally unfounded. The transfer from the socialists to the Likud was orderly, peaceful and democratic.

After the election, 43 Likud members entered the Knesset and after that election, there were altogether four Likud Prime Ministers—Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Shamir, Binyamin Netanyahu and Ariel Sharon. For a period, Likud was also part of a Unity government together with Labor.

To mark this milestone, the present Likud faction, headed by Chairman Gidon Sa'ar, will hold a special festive session at the Begin Center on Thursday, 17 May.

In addition, the Tel Aviv University's Chaim Weizman Research Center is holding a two-day (16-17 May) Symposium on the "Mahapach."

Reagan, Begin, Osirak

President Ronald Reagan was afraid that Israel's attack on the nuclear reactor at Osirak at Baghdad will "lead to the end of the world."

Thus wrote President Ronald Reagan in his diary which he kept for his two terms in office. It is now two years since he passed away and his wife has made some of the documents available to the public and especially to historians and writers. Reagan said that Israel's attack took the Americans completely by surprise. At the time, the American authorities were furious and Vice President George Bush (the father) called for immediate sanctions against Israel by stopping the delivery of arms.

However, after the dust settled, the Americans recognized the importance of this remarkable event and privately sent their congratulations. In fact, one month after the event the National Security Advisor to President Reagan came on a visit to Prime Minister Begin. They met at the Prime Minister's residence and after their formal discussion at which Yechiel Kadishai and Shlomo Nakdimon (Begin's media advisor) were present, the American told the Prime Minister that he had a personal message from the president and he had to do it "under four eyes," meaning only him and Begin. Begin told him to go ahead, that even with the two other people in the room, the conversation was as private as if they were alone. The American thought for a moment, nodded his head and said: "The President's message is "Well Done!"

Ten years later, of course, at the time of the first American War against Iraq, Desert Storm, scores of American Senators, Congressmen, newspaper editors and other public figures came to Israel, met with Prime Minister Shamir and proffered their gratitude for what Israel had done in 1981.

Junior Knesset in English

The Alexander Muss School in Hod HaSharon near Tel Aviv sent 130 American teenagers (juniors and seniors in high school) to participate in the Junior Knesset program of the Menachem Begin Heritage Center. As part of their eight week experience, students learn about their Jewish heritage, learn about Israel and, for the first time, had a hands-on, interactive workshop about how the Israeli Knesset works. The students spent the whole day in the Center divided into groups going through the museum, learning about history and working through issues in the Junior Knesset.

In Memoriam

We deeply regret to record the death of Dov Milman, who was a fighter in the Irgun Zvai Leumi, exiled to Gilgil in the group of 251 members of the Irgun and Lechi, where he began his studies in law. He was one of the founders of the Herut movement and a member of the Seventh Knesset. He was later appointed ambassador to Portugal and to the European Community. He was Chairman of the Association of Immigrants from Latvia.

His late wife, Sarah (Charney), came to Israel from South Africa as a Machal volunteer. A few years ago she died in a strange accident while swimming in the Gordon Street Pool, Tel Aviv.

We extend our heartfelt sympathy to Dov's daughter, Dina Milman, his son, Pinchas, and his daughter-in-law, Anat, and his grandchildren.

Dov Milman attended numerous functions of the Menachem Begin Heritage Center.


Rav Weinbach and Rabbi Geffen of Ohr Sameach visited the Begin Center and were most impressed by the museum, the Reuben Hecht Auditorium and the Beit Midrash Menachem and what they stand for. They would like to arrange tours for their groups from abroad to the Begin Center.

* * * * *

Members of the UIA Canada Prime Minister's Mission included a visit to the Begin Center in their program. They were received and addressed by the Director General Herzl Makov. Several days later a small group of visitors for the JDC Congress came to the Begin Center where they were met by Mr. and Mrs. Harry Hurwitz and were briefed about the Center and its many activities.


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