Tribute to Menachem Begin Z'L on His 25th Yahrzeit

Dr. Joseph Frager,

לבן ריק
לבן ריק
צילום: ערוץ 7
Dr. Joseph Frager
The writer is a leading American pro-Israel activist who sponsors and coordinates many Zionist events. He is clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine (Gastroenterology & Liver Diseases) at the Einstein School of Medicine as well as a practicing physician.

At 3:30AM on March 9th 1992 (the 4th of Adar) Menachem Begin's heart gave out. This year we honor and memorialize a Great man on his 25th Yahrzeit. He was a man of faith and truth.

His father, Ze'ev-Dov Begin went to his death at the hands of the Nazis leading his fellow Jews in defiant singing of "Hatikvah". His brother "Herzl" (named after Theodore Herzl) was also killed in the Holocaust. His political and philosophical mentor was Ze'ev Jabotinsky. In an impromptu speech in 1971, Begin said he learned two important lessons from Jabotinsky: "Belief in your ideal and readiness to sacrifice for it" and "do not bow to the mighty". Soon after the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, Begin visited the United States, his first act was to go to the cemetery in Long Island to honor the grave of Ze'ev Jabotinsky.

In 1964 Menachem Begin made sure that the remains of Ze'ev Jabotinsky and those of his wife Johanna were transferred to Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem. At the centennial of Ze'ev Jabotinsky's birth in 1981, Begin paid homage to his master and teacher by proclaiming: "In those difficult days we saw you in your pain and suffering. We heard you calling our people, who did not want to heed: Save yourselves, liquidate the Diaspora before the Diaspora liquidates you.  In those days on the threshold of those awful days you told us-your disciples, your children: a day will come when our People will call upon you to conduct their affairs to take responsibility for their future. That day has come." Menachem Begin does not get the credit he deserves for bringing the State of Israel into existence in 1948. For close to 40 years he remained in the oppo‎sition. In 1977 he shocked the world and was elected Prime Minister of Israel.

A month after assuming office he was invited to visit President Carter. Prime Minister Begin made sure to visit the Lubavitcher Rebbe first. In his meetings with President Carter, Begin took pains to explain the fundamental facts of the Jewish people's right to Eretz Yisrael and to highlight that Judea, Samaria, and Gaza are not "occupied territories" but part of a unitary, indivisible ancient land. He explained that if a PLO State were created in Judea and Samaria, terrorists with medium range rockets could strike at civilian population centers of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa with impunity.

In 1979 he made a peace agreement with Egypt. Mrs. Jehan Sadat said of Menachem Begin, "I will never forget how Prime Minister Menachem Begin came to Cairo for the funeral of my husband. It was on a Saturday and it was hot, and Menachem Begin insisted on walking the entire way on foot because of the Holiness of the Sabbath. That won over my heart."  On Begin's passing an old onion merchant in the Machane Yehuda Market in Jerusalem said, "Not since the days of Moses have we had a man such as Begin.

There has not been, nor will there ever be a man like him."  Dr. Yisrael Eldad a former Lechi leader who had been with Begin in his early years in Poland said, "David Ben Gurion was admired; Menachem Begin was beloved." One of Menachem Begin's greatest triumphs was his bombing of the Osirak Nuclear Reactor on June 7, 1981. The world was saved by Begin's decisive action. Begin explained that Israeli Intelligence said that the reactor would have been active in July or September.

It would have been too late to attack then because large amounts of radioactive material would have been released over Baghdad. The 1991 Gulf War would have been vastly different if Iraq possessed nuclear weapons. Resolutions were proposed in Congress "thanking Israel for destroying the atomic reactor". The Miami Herald which had been very critical of Begin's action in 1981, apologized to him in 1991. As Zvi Harry Hurwitz writes and concludes in his biography of Menachem Begin, "Yet, above all, Begin is missed because of his personal qualities of modesty, integrity, truthfulness, devotion, and adherence to principle no matter how difficult or unpopular.

For all these reasons-and more- we need him now.