Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Center Bulletin, Vol. 4, No. 44

Volume 4, Issue 44
August 13, 2008

Total Number of Visitors Since October 2004: 427,560

World Zionist Organization Meeting at the Center

A special meeting of the World Zionist Organization headed by its chairman, Ze'ev Bielsky, was held at the Begin Center this week to mark the 95th birthday of Menachem Begin.

In his opening remarks, Mr. Bielsky spoke movingly of the great impact that Menachem Begin had upon the Jewish People from the time he commanded the Irgun Zvai Leumi and the political evolution of Israel as leader of the Opposition until he was elected Prime Minister of the country in May 1977.

Harry Hurwitz, the founder of the Begin Center and now the President of the Foundation, welcomed the Executive and pointed out that according to the Begin Law passed in the Knesset in 1998, one of its goals is to stud y and research the Zionist struggle for the creation of the State. He made brief reference to the highlights of Menachem Begin's main political actions and urged close cooperation with the World Zionist Organization.

Herzl Makov, Chairman of the Begin Center, is the Honorary Secretary of the World Zionist Executive.

60 Years Ago: The Herut Party

The creation of the Herut Party in Israel in August 1948 by Menachem Begin and his associates in the command of the Irgun Zvai Leumi was one of the major events in the development of the State of Israel. For 29 years, the Herut Party, and later its partner the Liberal Party, served in Loyal Opposition until they were elected to the Premiership and leadership of the State of Israel in May 1977.

At the time of the launch of the party, Mr. Begin outlined the party's main objectives among which he stressed the need to:

"safeguard the sovereignty of the people, abolish discrimination between Jew and Jew, the system of the party key and the system of 'protexia' poisoning the national life of Israel today.

Dealing with problems of the constitution, Mr. Begin said it was not sufficient to construct a document with fine formulae laying down democratic principles. It was the task of the Constituent Assembly to make democracy safe in practice for the people of Israel. The Herut Party, therefore, would insist upon the essential division of the power of the State. The concentration of power in the hands of one person or in one group of persons presented a dangerous threat to the libe rty of the individual citizen. A Prime Minister or any other members of the Government could not, in a free State, be at the same time legislator and judge.

But, continued Mr. Begin, the separation of the executive, the legislature and the judiciary would not by itself solve the problem of securing the people's freedom.

"A form of parliamentary government can be maintained but it can, in practice, operate as a totalitarian machine with power firmly in the hands of the ruling party and that party is in a position, in effect, to defy the will and abolish the liberty of the people. To meet this grave danger, which is very real indeed in Israel, the people themselves must be equipped with the legal right and the political machinery to make known their will when vital problems confront the nation. This can only be done by making proper prov ision for a referendum, with clear rules and arrangements for its use, so that Parliament can never be turned into a glorified party conference.

In pursuance of the exercise of democratic control in fact and not merely in theory, Herut will strive to assure the democratic control of all local authorities and institutions and will fight against the pernicious system whereby controllers are nominated by the central government. Local government must be responsible to the local masses and not to some Party secretary, Party boss or Central Government authority."

"If the present disastrous economic position in Israel is not radically altered we shall not only be doomed to poverty and inflation but be deprived of the opportunity of establishing agriculture and industry as the sound foundation of the State. Internal and foreign loans will not solve our economic problem, which is the problem of vast and speedy construction. Loans will melt away in the war effort and little if anything will be left for constructive work. The solution lies in a maximum mobilization of productive investments. This can be achieved with the help of the Jews in the USA, but barring the way to this solution stands Monopolism, which in accordance with the iron law of economics, seeks the maximum concentration of capital and the destruction of every rival factor which threatens to engage in those constructive spheres. Herut will fight against Monopolism and monopolies. We shall demand laws to prevent the establishment of monopolies in the future."

By 1951, Menachem Begin concentrated his vision for the Herut Party into a speech that was published in the Herut newspaper and subsequently published as a booklet "Basic Outlines of Our Worldview and Our National Outlook." The Menachem Begin Heritage Center republished this booklet in Hebrew and translated it into English. It is currently available for sale at the Begin Center.

Words Echo from the Past for ₤1,600

A rare pamphlet issued by the Irgun Zvai Leumi in 1947 was sold at the British auction house Mullock's for ₤1,600. This is one of the highest prices paid for such a document. The sale of the pamphlet aroused a great deal of interest in the British media and also attracted attention in other countries, including places in the Arab world.

The English language pamphlet was addressed as follows: "The Soldiers of the Underground to the Soldiers of the Occupation Army." It was distributed to British troops at the start of 1947, just after the Irgun blew up a wing of the King David Hotel.

Dr. Beny Begin Speaks at Parashat HaShavua

On Thursday, August 7, the Reuben Hecht Auditorium was filled to capacity and the overflow seating in the Seminar Room was filled as well with persons who came to hear a special lecture by Dr. Ze'ev Binyamin Begin and Dr. Micha Goodman on the Parashat HaShavua for Tisha B'Av, the parasha before Shabbat Nachamu, which is Menachem Begin's birthday.

Dr. Begin spoke about the letters written on clay that were found in 1935 at Tel Lachish. The letters were in Hebrew and date back from before the First Temple that was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE as they refer to the defense of Jerusalem. The interesting thing about the letters is not that they exist at all, but rather that expert opinions had suggested that these letters contradicted the biblical account in the Book of Jeremiah, calling into question the written account. Until now. In the letters, the guards at Lachish claim that they cannot see the signal fires at Azakat Fortress. Experts had assumed that the lack of signal fires suggested that the fortress had already fallen which is not the account given in the Book of Jeremiah. Dr. Begin, using geological findings, shows that because of the topography of the land, the guards at Lachish would not have been able to see Azakat. Thus, there is no contradiction of the Book of Jeremiah.

Dr. Micha Goodman spoke about the importance of Tisha B'Av and its contrast to Tu B'Av, the 'holiday of love' in Israel.