Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Center Bulletin, Vol. 4, No. 45

Volume 4, Issue 45
August 19, 2008

Total Number of Visitors Since October 2004: 429,591

Letter from Begin Arrives 30 Years Late:

Reported by Newspaper, Radio, TV

During the new conservation scanning project going on in the archives of the Begin Center that will soon allow researchers to review digital copies of many items, a letter was found that was written, but apparently never made it to the mailbox. Some thirty years ago, a 9-year-old girl wrote a letter to Menachem Begin requesting an autographed picture. The autographed picture was prepared, but never actually sent.

The staff of the archives found first the family of the girl, and then were directed to her. She still lives in Israel and was delighted to know that Begin had indeed replied to her letter. In an additional happy coincidence, Reut (nee Ben David) Nave works at the Assaf HaRofeh Hospital in the Aliza Begin Wing. She is quoted as saying: "I am still in shock. Begin impressed me very much as a child and I was disappointed when I didn't hear from him. Since I heard from the Center, the expectation and excitement of the days after I sent the letter returned. This definitely closes the circle."

This heart-warming story was highlighted in the Ma'ariv newspaper, featured on the Galei Tzahal radio station and this morning, Channel 2 television picked up the story and interviewed Herzl Makov, the Chairman of the Begin Center about this touching turn of events.

1948: Begin's Interview with the New York Times

In the days between the cessation of the Irgun Zvai Leumi and the beginning of Menachem Begin's long political career, he was naturally much sought after by the international media. One of the first interviews he gave was to the Tel Aviv correspondent of the New York Times to whom he explained his and his future party's general political outlook. As reported in the Jewish Herald on August 27, 1948, he said:

"We do not intend to seek to gain power by a coup and will work to achieve authority by electoral means. … Our aspirations concerning the entire territory of Eretz Israel are in no way dependent upon developments. This is the historic aspiration of the entire people of Israel and our strength lies in that we represent this claim of our people. … Our members were educated on the principle th at arms are to be used only against an external enemy. This principle still stands. We shall most certainly try to set up a new government in the State of Israel—a government which will pursue faithfully the people's aim. This, however, we intend to do, not by bullets, but by ballots."

Discussing his organization's political philosophy, Mr. Begin said it aspired towards social justice, which required changes in the present regime. He added: "Certain elements of the theory of Socialism or of Soviet planning are needed in order to right the wrongs and the lack of economic equality which are connected with the present regime. But the criterion for us is the entry and absorption of the maximum number of repatriates into the country and its economy."

"But such absorption cannot come about without planning and without equal distribution of the financial burden. Nor will it be possible without the erection of industrial and agricultural institutions with the aid of private initiative. As for the political regime, we shall continuously stand guard over the rights of man and the citizens and government of the people, by the people and for the people."

Mr. Begin said that his group's foreign policy was based on reciprocity—"aid for aid and enmity for enmity. … We favor agreements between the State of Israel and any other State on condition that the full independence and freedom of our country is recognized and safeguarded."

"We do not recognize partition nor consent to partition. We consider both to be illegal and in no way to be binding on our people."

(We also remind our readers that copies of the 1951 booklet outlining Menachem Begin's vision of Herut [in English] are available at the Begin Center.)

60 Years Since Herut and Begin's 95th Birthday

A large gathering participated in all sessions of the all-day symposium in the Begin Center marking 95 years after the birth of Menachem Begin and 60 years after the creation of the Herut Party.

The lecturers were experts at various aspects of the subject and an interesting feature was the appearance of a group of young lecturers who had written various dissertations on these subjects. As reported last week, Prof. Yechiam Weiss, Herzl Makov and Yechiel Kadishai chaired the various sessions.

There were some very important personalities in the audience headed by the fifth President of Israel, Mr. Yitzhak Navon, who had inducted Menachem Begin as Prime Minister of Israel for his second term following the election in 1981.

Mr. Ruby Rivlin, the immediate past speaker of the Knesset and now Likud Knesset Member said in some personal remarks that he came from a family of long-time devoted supporters of Jabotinsky, the Irgun, Herut and its leader Menachem Begin. He had some warm personal recollections of his own concerning Menachem Begin from the time he launched the Herut Party in 1948.

In greeting the symposium, Harry Hurwitz, the Founder and President of the Menachem Begin Heritage Foundation said that the birth of Menachem Begin in Brisk 95 years ago was an important date for the history of the State of Israel. The young Begin showed his special talents at school in the Betar Organization, in the study of Law in Warsaw and, of course, as the commander of the Irgun before he was 30 years old.


Songs of Betar in a New Musicological Study

Songwriter Nachum (Nachma) Heiman, who is the founder of a society for the advancement of Israeli music, was at the Center this week to begin work with Gershon Stav on a serious musicological study of the songs of Betar. Heiman is well-known for his previous collections of Palmach and Halutz songs. He is not merely a collector, but he makes a special effort to include the history and musicological importance of the song.

Museum at Full Capacity

It must have been some kind of record when 492 individuals visited the Menachem Begin Museum on Wednesday of last week. This means that the museum was working at full capacity with full group following full group. High numbers were maintained in the week thereafter. The participants were largely Israeli families and also some groups from overseas as well as members of the IDF.