Menachem Begin addressing what was then the largest ever meeting in Zion at Kikar Haatzmaut ( now Rabin) the day after the King of Israeli Realty shows Dudu Topaz called all Sephardi Jews Chach-Chachim and extremely derogatory Israeli term meaning sort of a corrupt low life. Begin was a wonderful and very skilled Orator , animated and a trill to watch and hear. May his memory be blessed. If you don't speak Hebrew never mind....just watch, listen ....if you don't speak Hebrew ... listening to Menachem Begin speak is at least for me like watching the Rebbe Menachem Mendel speak in Yiddish or Polish ..... something innate in me is strange attracted to him longingly and willingly....hard to explain but after watching the Rebbe 's many movies and video clips online I feeel emotionally and spiritually recharged ....
On 17 May 1977 the Likud, headed by Begin, won the Knesset elections by a landslide, becoming the biggest party in theKnesset. Popularly known as the Mahapakh ("upheaval"), the election results had seismic ramifications as for the first time in Israeli history a party other than the Alignment/Mapai was in a position to form a government, effectively ending the left's hitherto unrivalled domination over Israeli politics. Likud's electoral victory signified a fundamental restructuring of Israeli society in which the founding socialist Ashkenazi elite was being replaced by a coalition representing marginalized Mizrahi and Jewish-religious communities, promoting a socially conservative and economically liberal agenda.
Begin exit from an aircraft at Andrews Air Force Base,Maryland, United States
The Likud campaign leading up to the election centered on Begin's personality. Demonized by the Alignment as totalitarian and extremist, his self-portrayal as a humble and pious leader struck a chord with many who felt abandoned by the ruling party's ideology. In the predominantly Jewish Mizrahi working class urban neighborhoods and peripheral towns, the Likud won overwhelming majorities, while disillusionment with the Alignment's corruption prompted many middle and upper class voters to support the newly founded Centrist Democratic Movement for Change ("Dash") headed by Yigael Yadin. Dash won 15 seats out of 120, largely at the expense of the Alignment, which was led by Shimon Peres and had shrunk from 51 to 32 seats. Well aware of his momentous achievement and employing his trademark sense for drama, when speaking that night in the Likud headquarters Begin quoted from the Gettysburg Address and the Torah, referring to his victory as a 'turning point in the history of the Jewish people'.
With 43 seats, the Likud still required the support of other parties in order to reach a parliamentary majority that would enable it to form a government under Israel's proportionate representation parliamentary system. Though able to form a narrow coalition with smaller Jewish religious and ultra-orthodox parties, Begin also sought support from centrist elements in the Knesset to provide his government with greater public legitimacy. He controversially offered the foreign affairs portfolio toMoshe Dayan, a former IDF Chief of Staff and Defense Minister, and a prominent Alignment politician identified with the old establishment. Begin was sworn in as Prime Minister of Israel on 20 June 1977. Dash eventually joined his government several months later, thus providing it with the broad support of almost two thirds of the Knesset.
Menachem Begin Hebrew: מְנַחֵם בֵּגִין; Polish: Mieczysław Biegun; Russian: Менахем Вольфович Бегин Menakhem Vol'fovich Begin; 16 August 1913 – 9 March 1992) was perhaps Israelis Greatest Politicianpolitician ( hey that is in my opinion and this is my blog ... so in your face if you don't agree) He was the founder of Likud and the sixth Prime Minister of the State of Israel. Before the creation of the state of Israel, he was the leader of the Zionist militant group Irgun, the Revisionist breakaway from the larger Jewish paramilitary organization Haganah. He proclaimed a revolt, on 1 February 1944, against the British mandatory government, which was opposed by the Jewish Agency. As head of the Irgun, he targeted the British in Palestine. Later, the Irgun fought the Arabs during the 1947–48 Civil War in Mandatory Palestine.
Begin was elected to the first Knesset, as head of Herut, the party he founded, and was at first on the political fringe, embodying the opposition to the Mapai-led government and Israeli establishment. He remained in opposition in the eight consecutive elections (except for a national unity government around the Six-Day War), but became more acceptable to the political center. His 1977 electoral victory and premiership ended three decades of Labor Party political dominance.
Begin’s most significant achievement as Prime Minister was the signing of a peace treaty with Egypt in 1979, for which he and Anwar Sadat shared the Nobel Prize for Peace. In the wake of the Camp David Accords, the Israel Defense Forces(IDF) withdrew from the Sinai Peninsula, which was captured from Egypt in the Six-Day War. Later, Begin’s government promoted the construction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Begin authorized the bombing of the Osirak nuclear plant in Iraq and the invasion of Lebanon in 1982 to fight PLO strongholds there, igniting the 1982 Lebanon War. As Israeli military involvement in Lebanon deepened, and the Sabra and Shatila massacre, carried out by Christian Phalangist militia allies of the Israelis, shocked world public opinion, Begin grew increasingly isolated. As IDF forces remained mired in Lebanon and the economy suffered from hyperinflation, the public pressure on Begin mounted. Depressed by the death of his wife Aliza in November 1982, he gradually withdrew from public life, until his resignation in October 1983.
Menachem Begin was born to Zeev Dov and Hassia Biegun of Polish Jewry in Brest, a town called Brest-Litovsk, then part of the Russian Empire, but today Belarus, and was known for its Talmudic scholars. He was the youngest of three children. On his mother's side he was descended from distinguished rabbis. His father, a timber merchant, was a community leader, a passionate Zionist, and an admirer of Theodor Herzl. The midwife who attended his birth was the grandmother of Ariel Sharon.
After a year of a traditional cheder education Begin started studying at a "Tachkemoni" school, associated with the religious Zionist movement. In his childhood, Begin, like most Jewish children in his town, was a member of the Zionist scouts movement Hashomer Hatzair. He was a member of Hashomer Hatzair until the age of 13, and at 16, he joined Betar. At 14, he was sent to a Polish government school, where he received a solid grounding in classical literature.
Begin studied law at the University of Warsaw, where he learned the oratory and rhetoric skills that became his trademark as a politician, and viewed as demagogy by his critics. During his studies, he organized a self-defense group of Jewish students to counter harassment by anti-Semites on campus. He graduated in 1935, but never practiced law. At this time, he became a disciple of Vladimir "Ze'ev" Jabotinsky, the founder of the nationalist Revisionist Zionism movement and its Betar youth wing. His rise within Betar was rapid: At 22, he shared the dais with his mentor at the Betar World Congress in Kraków. The pre-war Polish government actively supported Zionist youth and paramilitary movements. Begin's leadership qualities were quickly recognised. In 1937 he was the active head of Betar inCzechoslovakia and became head of the largest branch, that of Poland. As head of Betar's Polish branch, Begin traveled among regional branches to encourage supporters and recruit new members. To save money, he stayed at the homes of Betar members. During one such visit, he met his future wife Aliza Arnold, who was the daughter of his host. On 29 May 1939 the couple married. They had three children: Binyamin, Leah and Hassia.
Living in Warsaw in Poland, Begin encouraged Betar to set up an organization to bring Polish Jews to Palestine. He unsuccessfully attempted to smuggle 1,500 Jews into Romania at the end of August 1939. Returning to Warsaw afterward, he left three days after the German 1939 invasion began, first to the southwest and then toWilno.
In September 1939, after Germany invaded Poland, Begin, in common with a large part of Warsaw's Jewish leadership, escaped to Wilno (today Vilnius), then eastern Poland, to avoid inevitable arrest. The town was soon occupied by the Soviet Union, but from 28 October 1939, it was the capital of the Republic of Lithuania. Wilno was a predominately Polish and Jewish town; an estimated 40 percent of the population was Jewish, with the YIVO institute located there.
NKVD mugshots of Menachem Begin, 1940
As a prominent pre-war Zionist and reserve status officer-cadet, on 20 September 1940, Begin was arrested by the NKVD and detained in the Lukiškės Prison. He wrote about his experience of being tortured, in later years. He was accused of being an "agent of British imperialism" and sentenced to eight years in the Soviet gulag camps. On 1 June 1941 he was sent to thePechora labor camps in Komi Republic, the northern part of European Russia, where he stayed until May 1942. Much later in life, Begin would record and reflect upon his experiences in the interrogations and life in the camp in his memoir White Nights.
In July 1941, just after Germany attacked the Soviet Union, and following his release under the Sikorski–Mayski agreement because he was a Polish national, Begin joined the Free Polish Anders' Army as a corporal officer cadet. He was later sent with the army to Palestine via the Persian Corridor, where he arrived in May 1942.
Upon arriving in Palestine, Begin, like many other Polish Jewish soldiers of the Anders' Army, faced a choice between remaining with the Anders' Army to fight Nazi Germany in Europe, or staying in Palestine to fight for establishment of a Jewish state. While he initially wished to remain with the Polish army, he was eventually persuaded to change his mind by his contacts in the Irgun, as well as Polish officers sympathetic to the Zionist cause. Consequently, General Michał Karaszewicz-Tokarzewski, the second in command of the Army issued Begin with a "leave of absence without an expiration" which gave Begin official permission to stay in Palestine. In December 1942 he left Ander's Army and joined the Irgun.
During the Holocaust, Begin's father was among the 5,000 Brest Jews rounded up by the Nazis at the end of June 1941. Instead of being sent to a forced labor camp, they were shot or drowned in the river. His mother and older brother Herzl also died in the Holocaust.