Sunday, February 13, 2011

On Menachem Begin As Statesman

Prof. Paul Eidelberg:-

Menachem Begin: A Statesman

Menachem Begin was a statesman, not a mere politician. Of course, even statesmen sometime err; but such errors are usually result from human fallibility, not from human vices. What made Menachem Begin a statesman is that he consciously and systematically applied Jewish ideas to action—and he drew these ideas from the Book of Truth, the Torah.

Menachem Begin was first and foremost a proud Jew. His Jewish pride permeated his exceptional oratory. His oratory displayed not only Jewish pride but also Jewish learning, especially of history. Whether speaking to Jewish or gentile audiences, whether addressing the Knesset or the United Nations, his oratory was punctuated by biblical references and illustrations drawn from vivid historical events. There was nothing apologetic about Menachem Begin’s Jewishness; indeed, upholding Jewish honor was one of his cardinal principles. He was Israel's most religious prime minister. And it is in this light that we are to understand why he was a statesman and not merely a politician.

One example must suffice. Consider politicians, even from the "Right," who have endorsed the so-called two-state solution to the Palestinians conflict. With hardly an exception they insist that the Arab-Islamic state thus formed recognize Israel’s existence as a Jewish state. Menachem Begin would have nothing but contempt for such politicians—and they number among Israel’s ruling elites.

After his victory in the May 1977 elections, Begin addressed the Knesset. He mentioned Israel’s rebirth and her inherent right to exist in the family of nations. He challenged faint-hearted Knesset members in these words:

"Would it enter the mind of any Briton or Frenchman, Belgian or Dutchman, Hungarian or Bulgarian, Russian or American, to request for its people the recognition of its right to exist? Their existence per se is their right to exist!"

As for Israel, he continued, "We were granted our right to exist by the God of our fathers at the glimmer of the dawn of human civilization four thousand years ago. And so it is that the Jewish people have an historic, eternal and inalienable right to Eretz Yisrael, the land of forefathers."

These are words of a statesman.
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