Thursday, November 19, 2009

Begin As Party Leader

MK Tzachi HaNegbi recalls:

"The disengagement has leveled a harsh blow to the concept of unilateralism," said Hanegbi, who chairs the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. "The logic, if you are forced to look for one behind Sharon's decision, was that you're no longer there. You're no longer harassing [the Palestinians]. You're no longer the occupier.

"But this logic dissipated when it turned out that you need two to tango, and that the other party does not play the game according to the rules, but instead tries to take advantage of the vacuum that was formed in order to empower itself."

Hanegbi, who voted against disengagement in 2005 as a Likud MK, on Monday focused on two major political outcomes of the disengagement: the split in the "right-wing world," and the "eventual fluctuation [in support] from the center-left back to the right."

"It had always been the norm of Likud to support their leaders, and in fact most supported Menachem Begin when he wanted to make uncharacteristic concessions in the early 1980s," said Hanegbi. "But here, with Sharon and the disengagement there was a split. It was no longer a debate, it was personal accusations against Sharon, such as the one that he was trying to save himself from various financial investigations. Most people believe that this was the true motivation behind Sharon's decision."

In the first general election following the disengagement, in March 2006, the Likud went from 40 Knesset seats to 12 - the largest decline in Israeli political history.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

When Begin Was Besmirched

"[Former Lord Mayor of London Ken] Livingstone is emblematic of many of the 1968 generation of leftist politicians for whom anti-Zionist and anti-Israel language is second nature. As editor of the Labour Herald, Livingstone published in 1982 a cartoon of the Israeli prime minister, Menachem Begin, dressed in a black SS uniform standing on a mountain of Arab skulls above the slogan, "The Final Solution? Shalom?"

Livingstone also accused the representative body of British Jews, the Board of Deputies, of being dominated by "neo-fascists" and argued that those Jews who supported Labour did so not "because they were Jewish but because the Conservative Party was anti-Semitic." Yet Reg Freeson, the Labour MP who was ousted and replaced as MP by Livingstone, said he didn't consider Livingstone "anti-Semitic."


Saturday, November 14, 2009

A Critical Look at Begin

Menachem Begin, Israel's prime minister from 1977 to 1983, tried very hard to present Abu Mazen's predecessor, Yasser Arafat, as being - how shall I put it? - "not really human," and even outright demonic. Begin not only referred to him as "the man with the hairs on his face" (although I and quite a few other Israelis have hairs on our faces), but he also used a ploy adapted later by many local officials, the present premier included: treating Arafat and indeed all our enemies as potential "Hitlers," like dots along an evil axis, or declaring that there is "no partner," that Palestinians are not worthy of negotiating with Israel.

Michael Handelzalts in Haaretz

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Begin as A MI5 Target

In a report, Cambridge Historian Writes Definitive History Of Britain's MI5, we learn that Christopher Andrew, a history professor at Cambridge University, has recently published the first authorized history of the domestic branch of the British intelligence establishment -- officially designated the Security Service and commonly known as MI5. It is entitled, "Defend The Realm".

In an interview with RFE/RL correspondent Ahto Lobjakas, he was asked, among other things:

...RFE/RL: The Security Service has over the past two decades become less concerned with espionage, and now mostly focuses on counterterrorism. Why is that?

Andrew: That's right. It's a comparatively sudden change. MI5 was founded exactly 100 years ago this month, solely as a counterespionage network. Nowadays, on its 100th birthday, it only spends 3.5 percent of its resources on counterespionage. Espionage is still going on. But espionage by, for example, Russia is plainly not as threatening to national interest now that the Cold War is over as it was at the period when people legitimately wondered whether the Cold War would turn into hot war.

So it's overwhelmingly a counterterrorist agency. But how it got into it is, I think, not generally known. The first major terrorist target of the Security Service was actually Zionist extremists -- Menachem Begin, for example, the future prime minister of Israel -- after blowing up the British headquarters in Palestine, the King David Hotel, after blowing up the British Embassy in Rome. They then planted a huge bomb in Whitehall [British government headquarters], which failed to go off.

Note, that second operation, at Whitehall, was not an Irgun operation.

According to Eli Tavin, Commander of the Irgun Abroad (Europe), there was only one planned operation, an attempt to assassinate Genral Evelyn Barker, in which Ezer Weizmann took part. Other operations considered were the bombing of underground telephone wires near the City of London; demolition of a tunnel under the Thames; an attack at the telegraph center at Cornwall; a recreation camp intended for veterans of the Palestine Police and the ocean liner Queen Elizabeth. None of these moved beyond the planning stage. See "The Second Front" (Hebrew), p. 173.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Letter to Editor Not Published


In Robert Irwin's review of "The Arabs: A History" by Eugene Rogan (31 Oct.), we are informed that "while Britain was at war with Nazi Germany, Menachem Begin, the leader of Irgun, and Yitzhak Shamir, the leader of Lehi, waged terrorist campaigns against the British in Palestine" and that "…Irgun operatives blew up the King David Hotel in Jerusalem". That is too sketchy a description and is factually misleading.

In 1939, Britain's White Paper policy of limiting Jewish immigration to 75,000 over the next five years sentenced millions of Jews to death at the hands of the Nazis. As Bernard Wasserstein has shown, in his "Great Britain and the Jews of Europe", among others, latent anti-Semitism and an inconceivable misreading of the political situation all throughout the World War by Colonial and Foreign Office ministers and clerks who acted in virtual collaboration with the German pursuit of the Jews brought about the horrific results of the Holocaust. The Jewish armed struggle against the oppressive Mandatory regime was just and proper.

On July 26, 1946, Irgun fighters detonated explosives in the southern wing of Jerusalem's King David Hotel which was requisitioned by the British Mandatory administration already weight years earlier as offices for the Mandate Secretariat as well as the Command for British military forces in the country. The section destroyed in the blast was not, as could be inferred, a civilian location populated by tourists. In addition, that a warning call made to alert the British of the impending blast was ignored, whereas the nearby French Consulate acted with alacrity upon receiving their call, was most unfortunate.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Begin - A True Ascetic

Found here:-

The corruption at the top of Israeli politics, now almost endemic, quite frankly started with the Rabins, Yitzhak and Leah. The previous prime ministers had been—how to say it?—well, they were actually true ascetics. David Ben Gurion, who lived out his life with his books on his Spartan kibbutz Sde Boker. The Zionist diplomat Moshe (Shertok) Sharett. Levi Eshkol who made Israel productive but not himself prosperous. Golda Meir, who had many passions (she loved music, actually cello music, and she had many lovers) but not for style or cash.

And, then, of course, Menachem Begin, a true ascetic (whom Henry Rosovsky, David Landes and Michael Walzer visited in 1970 in his three-room "English basement" apartment where he had hidden from the pre-state British Mandate police and where he died.) These were austere people.

And, then, suddenly came Leah and Yitzhak, high livers who in a country still alienated from high living cut their swath. Rabin's first term as prime minister was cut short by a petty (actually utterly insignificant) banking scandal. On this count, the rest is history. No one could swear that Israel has had a pecuniarily honest p.m. since.