Sunday, February 1, 2009

Begin Center Bulletin, Vol. 5, No. 15

JANUARY 29, 2009 | VOLUME 5, ISSUE 15



The Education Department of the Menachem Begin Heritage Center has been working very hard to implement a new series of programs recently. Ilan Cohen and Yossi Suede created special workshops sessions designed for military personnel and police officers. Within this specific audience, the workshops address a specific need which is the lack of Zionist history, specifically with respect to Menachem Begin and his heritage, and practical tools for leadership training. With this need in mind, the Education Department created four types of workshops.

Military Commander's Dilemmas is a workshop directed to commanders in which they define and explore the terms 'Authority' and 'Responsibility' and their relationship to each other. Through this discussion the participants move to defining what the elements of commander's profile would be and what motivates him—proving to himself his ability to lead, pressures of society, working toward his ideals, etc. A special competitive activity was created to augment the workshop utilizing the history of Avraham Kirschenbaum who lived in and defended Yemin Moshe, the neighborhood next to the Begin Center, during the British Mandate period.

The Public Service workshop is directed to everyday soldiers, not commanders, who are doing regular, often repetitive, jobs in the army. This workshop provides tools for soldiers to understand their role in the larger framework of the Zionist dream. Again, the story of Avraham Kirschenbaum is utilized, but this time as a tour with discussions about the dilemmas he faced.

The Synergy workshop was created to help individuals work together in a group and understand their role in a broader framework. Using traditional teambuilding activities, the soldiers are able to utilize the most effective style of leadership and create a stronger team. The neighborhood surrounding the Begin Center is used as the field for the competitive activity in which team go to find clues at 16 locations to fill in a puzzle. The final answer to the puzzle and the moral of the workshop is "The whole is greater than the sum of its parts."

The Jewish and Democratic State workshop is directed to officers to gain a perspective about society as a whole. The participants discuss the conflicts and agreements between the concepts of a Jewish state and a democratic state and develop tools regarding these issues in a variety of hypothetical situations. This workshop was designed to help these young leaders in the army navigate the grey area between the Jewish character of the state and the ideals of democracy.

Another workshop that is currently in development is one regarding Value-Based Leadership in exploring the motivation of leaders—a leader whose actions come from a position of holding fast to values or a position based on a pragmatic review of the current situation.

The Education Department was fully scheduled this week with a session of the Junior Knesset for a religious girls' school from Arad, with group of soldiers from the Communications Corps who participated in the Military Commander's Dilemmas workshop.


Three hundred pre-army students heard lectures by prominent politicians this week in the Reuben Hecht Auditorium this week. Herzl Makov opened the day of seminars and spoke about Menachem Begin and leadership. This event was closed to the public.


The IGF Program's speaker for its Thursday seminar was Prof. Menachem Megidor, the
President of Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He spoke about Israeli higher education and mentioned that he always enjoys visiting the Begin Center. The group also had the pleasure to meet with Prof. Yisrael (Robert John) Aumann, Nobel Laureate in Economics whose was honored for his work on conflict and cooperation through game-theory analysis.


With President Obama's inauguration ceremony last week, all eyes turned to Washington, DC, and American presidents in general. As such we saw all the living former Presidents of the United States, among them former President Jimmy Carter. He was famous for helping to broker the Peace Treaty between Egypt and Israel that was negotiated between Prime Minister Menachem Begin and President Anwar Sadat. Unfortunately, President Carter is now more famous for his revisions to history, twisting of facts and blatant anti-Israel stance. This week saw a couple of mentions of Carter in relation to Menachem Begin in the media:

First Alan Howe in Australia's Herald Sun writes:

Last Thursday they brought President-elect Barak Obama together with the three living former presidents and the incumbent.
There they were: George Bush Sr and his son, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter.
Liars, the lot of them.
Carter might be his country's most famous born-again Christian, but he's not averse to telling the odd porky.
For years he insisted that at the Camp David negotiations then Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin agreed to a freeze on new West Bank settlements and then broke the promise.
Begin did no such thing and 25 years later Carter finally agreed.

Mike Evans in his Op-Ed in the Washington Times writes:

Carter refers to Jews again and again as "radicals," another word for terrorists. He called former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin a "radical" and then goes on to describe him as the "most notorious terrorist in the region." Of course, he said the British said that, not him...
It appears that Jimmy Carter is revising history. The Benjamin Netanyahu I know was attending college during the Camp David meetings. In fact, when I recommended him to Begin for a government job, the prime minister did not even know who Benjamin was. I have no idea how Carter was so aware of Benjamin Netanyahu's political ideology; he was selling furniture to help fund his schooling.
The former president writes that Begin agreed to divide Jerusalem. I found that to be astonishing … especially since Mr. Begin had given me a copy of the letter he wrote to Carter on Sept. 17, 1978. In the letter he wrote, "Dear Mr. President. … On the basis of this law, the government of Israel decreed in July 1967 that Jerusalem is one city indivisible, the capital of the State of Israel." According to Begin, Carter informed him that the U.S. government did not recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Begin told me he responded, "Excuse me sir, but the State of Israel does not recognize your non-recognition." The former president writes that Prime Minister Begin agreed to a freeze on building Jewish settlements. Begin told me he had not agreed to a total freeze; he only agreed not to build new settlements for three months, during the negotiations. Carter gives the impression that he and Begin were close friends by saying that Begin and Sadat visited him in Plains to reaffirm the personal commitments each had made to the other. I found that quite humorous; Mr. Begin told me he had refused to meet with Carter when the president traveled to Jerusalem. At that time, he was no longer prime minister but was outraged that Carter had misrepresented the events during their meetings.

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