Menachem Begin
Menachem BeginFlash 90

"We are at the last stage of the war. We stand before a historical decision and the fate of generations---There is no longer any armistice between the Jewish people and the British administration in Eretz Yisrael, which hands our brothers over to Hitler. Our people are at war with this [British] regime---war to the end---Our fighting youth will not be deterred by sacrifice, torment, blood and suffering.-----This then is our demand: immediate transfer of power to a provisional Jewish government------The G-d of Israel, the Lord of Hosts, is with us. There shall be no retreat. FREEDOM OR DEATH!" [Menachem Begin quote in "The Prime Minister by Yehuda Avner].

During 1938, Jabotinsky sought to reestablish the Zionist claim to the East Bank of the Jordan, expressing himself as follows: "An end must be put to the widely accepted, but definitely mistaken view."Many believe that in the eyes of the Arabs, Transjordan is more hallowed than Western Palestine----That is a lie. The holy places of Islam are found only in Jerusalem and Hebron---- If an Arab nationalist would have to chose one of two sides of the Jordan on the assumption that one of them had to come into Jewish hands, there is no doubt that he would give up Transjordan."[Letters to the Jerusalem Post by Alex Rose, November 21, 2014].

Of the many books Shmuel Katz has authored, his 2 volume , 1855 page, "Lone Wolf" is the most comprehensive on Vladimir Ze'ev Jabotinsky, and needs no further book on this dynamic Jewish leader. Jabotinsky's most notable speech in front of the1937 speaks volumes.

"I have the profoundest feeling for the Arab case, insofar as the Arab case is not exaggerated.----- We maintain unanimously that the economic position of the Palestinian Arabs, under the Jewish colonization, has become the object of envy in all the surrounding countries, so that the Arabs from those countries show clear tendency to immigrate into Palestine. I have also shown to you already , that, in our submission, there is no question of ousting the Arabs. On the contrary, the idea is that Palestine , on both sides of the Jordan, should hold the Arabs, their progeny, and many millions of Jews.

"What I do not deny is that in the process, the Arabs of Palestine will necessarily become a minority in the country of Palestine. What I do deny is that is a hardship. It is not a hardship on any race, any nation possessing so many National States now and so many more National States in the future. . One fraction , one branch of that race, and not a big one, will have to live in someone else's State: well that is the case with all the mightiest nations of the world----It is quite understandable that the Arabs of Palestine would also prefer Palestine to be the Arab State Number 4, N umber 5, or Number 6 ---that I quite understand: But when the Arab claim is confronted with our Jewish demand to be saved, it is like the claims of appetite versus the claims of starvation."

In Chapter 99 on page 1607, we learn about the fate of Beta members, Shlomo Ben -Yosef, Avraham Shein and Shalom Zuravin. They were imprisoned by the British and faced the gallows. Typical of Jabotinsky, above all he made ever conceivable effort to have them freed. He referred to the British as engaging in so grotesque an act of injustice.

What was there alleged crime? They had fired on a handful of young Arab hooligans who had been terrorizing the country of Jewish hopes. No one was killed or reported injured. Only 5 days were left for efforts to save Ben-Yosef's life.

In confronting the British Colonial Secretary Malcolm MacDonald, Jabotinsky was told that the reasoning behind the intended killing had nothing to do with the gravity of Ben-Yosef's act. The government was determined to make an example."Unruly elements, " he said, "must be taught a lesson to keep them quiet."

Even an effort to find a precedent from the days of the Boer War, where a death sentence in 1901, passed by a military court and already confirmed, had at the last moment been granted a hearing by the Privy Council at Britain. The document could not be found

Then a similar case was recalled from the days of the Irish Rebellion. It was miraculously located. Despite all these efforts consuming much time on the part of Jabotinsky and his friends, it was to no avail.

At a mass meeting in London, Mordechai Katz, addressing Jabotinsky said, "We know that the Jewish nation has many leaders, some worthy, some less, but only one with whose name on his lips, a great son of Israel deemed it a privilege to die."

Ben-Josef was not a sophisticated philosopher whose final message was, "Tell Jabotinsky that I shall die with his name on my lips."

Yitshaq Ben- Ami's, "Years of Wrath, Days of Glory" is essentially an autobiography an yet he acknowledges Jabotinsky's leadership freely. He describes him as a 19th century liberal more than a revolutionary, who did not let go of his faith in "civilized" Britain. That is, until conditions became critical in Europe in late 1938. By the end of 1938, he gave in and placed himself at the head of the Hebrew Revolution. From that point on he became, in fact, the Supreme Commander of the Irgun.

Reverting to Menachem Begin, in Zvi Harry Hurwitz book, "Begin", he asks the question, "How well did Jabotinsky know Menachem Begin?" Apparently his friend Dr Shimson Yunichman was able to confirm the relationship. Early on Begin had joined Jabotinsky's movement and was one of many thousands in Poland to do so while Jabotinsky travelled the length and breadth of Europe without rest.

Jabotinsky recognized Begin's special qualities and selected him for important leadership , when he was still a young man. After several failed attempts in electioneering, Begin was able to succeed in a turning point in 1955. Thus, he was able to end the years of travail, including many insults. He suffered from the attacks by Ben-Gurion's Marxists and other Leftists.

Begin had to face the awful deliberations on the acceptance of reparations from the state of Germany, given the Holocaust factor. Reparations were revived in 1961 when Israel kidnapped Adolph Eichman and had him face trial in Jerusalem. Following the trial, he was hanged despite several countries who objected and also favored a Palestinian Arab homeland. Begin responded, saying, "Europe, whose rivers flow with Jewish blood, has no right to lecture Israel on matters which could involve its life and death and safety of every woman , man and child in our country."

The strained relationship between the Government and Opposition, dating from virtually the birth of the State, was such that Ben-Gurion wanted nothing to do with Menachem Begin, and actively sought to undermine and ostracize him He hardly ever spoke to Begin, and even when necessity obliged him to refer to him in the Knesset, he refused to mention Begin's name, but described him as "that man sitting next to Knesset Member Baden. Most times when Begin rose to address the Knesset, Ben-Gurion would demonstratively walk out.

Begin played an active role in both the 6 Day War and the Yom Kippur wars. At all times, he ensured that the Old City of Jerusalem had to be secured. Begin always distinguished between land that was conquered in wars and liberated parts of ancient Eretz Israel: the latter was land to which the Jewish people had inalienable right and which would, therefore not again be returned to foreign rule, not even when, one day there was a prospect for real peace.

Upon the announcement on 18th May, 1977 that Begin would become Prime Minister, Golda Meir called the result "a catastrophe" implying it was a tragedy for the people of Israel. It was a tragedy primarily for those in Israel's Labor establishment who had held power for so many years, who had borne out Lord Acton's profound statement that "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

On Page 386 of "Years of Wrath Days of Glory", one finds, 'an ambivalent friend of Hebrew independence, Winston Churchill,' who said in Parliament, "The one rightful, reasonable, simple and compulsive lever we held and, if you will, still hold, was and is a sincere readiness to resign the mission, to lay our Mandate at the feet of the United Nations Organization, and thereafter to evacuate the country with which we have no connection or tradition-----We should now give notice that we will return our Mandate to the United Nations Organization-----"

The implication suggests that but for Begin, or the Irgun, or both, Britain would never have left. Palestine.

And now onto the current times through Benjamin Netanyahu, who shares the same hatred bestowed on Menachem Begin. Alexander Hamilton once said, "I think the first duty of society is justice." And Marin Luther King Jr. added, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly."

On several occasions, Historian Victor Davis Hanson has cautioned judgment of leaders by their actions rather than their rhetoric. Reading contemporary media headlines on Prime Minister Netanyahu, it appears as if he only has failures and his actions are readily dismissed.

By his own admission, Netanyahu's mentors were his father, Jabotinsky, Begin and Shamir. This can readily be confirmed with a reading of his most recent book, 'Bibi'."

[a] In 1977, he engaged in establishing the Jonathan Institute to advocate for a new Western policy toward international terrorism. He was recognized foremost for the lead he displayed in pursuing the danger of Iran, beyond all others. His speech at the UN had his 102 year old historian father remarking "Jabotinsky couldn't give such a speech".

[b]When Rabin was forced to resign (and Peres became PM), Begin won,the1981 election, contrary to expectations. He maintained Peres, the loser, believed that Begin would lose, whereas he was convinced that if Peres became PM, he would never have given the order to destroy the reactor, despite Saddam's fast moving progress.

[c] Shamir appointed the youthful Benjamin Netanyahu to join the Israeli delegation as the coordinator of the Israeli public relations efforts at the ill chosen Dec.9,1991 Madrid Conference.

If readers wish to understand how Netanyahu was once again elected to the position of PM, reading his latest book would undoubtedly assist them. If in addition, they are unable to comprehend the proposed justice reforms, they can engage Mosaic's "Israel's Imperious Judiciary' "by Moshe Koppel [Dec.4, 2014] and "The Erosion of Public Trust in Israel's Judiciary is Real ---And Un Unusual." by Evelyn Gordon. [Dec. 26, 2016].

Alex Rose