Looking Back on 30 Years of Struggle and Change
Looking back on 30 years of struggle and change
From the new Israeli leader's book
A new generation has arisen since the events described in this book took place. The men of this generation, who were born in the 40s, took part in the Six-Day War, finished their studies or their military service, established families and even provided us with grandchildren. Certainly, there were historical deeds and events in the era of the sons as well. Have they confirmed or contradicted the assumptions and aspirations of the fathers? Let us examine. In comparative study we shall find the answer.
The book begins with a description of the author's experience in Stalin's Russia. The chapter was published in the day when Lavrenti Beria was the right-hand, or left-hand man of Josef Vissarianovich. Not all readers accepted the concise story as truthful.
Communists said it was not at all possible that there should be such treatment of men in the Soviet Union. They expressed their absolute belief in socialist justice and its humane ways. With a measure of forgiveness the admirers of the Soviet regime claimed that perhaps personal suffering had motivated me to lend a hand to anti-Soviet propaganda.
Stalin died, Beria was executed. Khruschev spoke at the 20th Congress of the Soviet Communist Party. Solzhenitisin described one day of the many, in the life of Denisovitch. After 23 years, there is no longer anyone, not even a Communist, who will doubt the truth of the tale about nights of interrogation and concentration camps in the Communist state. Of course truth is an absolute value. It needs not the confirmation of those who rebel against it. However, if those who deny it, come to admit it, there if proof that its total triumph is inevitable.
Garlin was a Communist since his youth. He took part in the civil war and still remembered Lenin and Trotsky. Through loyal service to the Soviet regime, he reached a high position. He was assistant editor of "Pravda." When I met him, he was a broken man, a tormented prisoner, an enemy of the people, a degraded and beaten Jew. His spiritual agonies were immeasurable; they were certainly more acute than his bodily pains.
When we were together below the deck of the prison, or slave ship, he asked me to sing for him "To Return;" that is the song Hatikvah, which he had heard in his youth, in Odessa. How interesting that he did not recall the name of the song. He knew nothing of its composer. Nevertheless, embedded in his memory for more than 30 years, were the first words of the line: "To return to the land of our forefathers."
Another 30 years have passed. Garin is no longer alone in his hope and prayer. Tens of thousands of Jews in the Soviet Union sing along and call out: "To return to the land of our fathers." This is a mighty, a wondrous historical phenomenon. A great miracle has taken place. Communism has been defeated not by force but by an ideal. Zionism is the idea which triumphed over Communist education. Since I came, or returned to Eretz Israel, I have not ceased to express hope, or faith, that there would be a return to Zion from Russia as well. It has come.
In the chapter entitled: "We Fight, Therefore we Are," we find the following: "One cannot say that those who shaped British Middle Eastern policy at that time didn't want to save the Jews. It would be more correct to say that they eagerly wanted the Jews no to be saved."
I wrote these harsh words on the basis of study and analysis of the facts. In the 40s and 50s we had no documents to confirm our serious accusation. The day came, however, when the truth, even the most awful truth, was vindicated with the aid of historical documents. My generation read these shocking papers by chance. It is likely that many of them would never have even been heard of, had Britain not changed its custom in regard to classified documents.
It had been the custom in London that after 50 years, the government archives, locked away from the public, would be opened. A few years ago, the British government decided to shorten the period of secrecy. At the beginning of 1972, the minutes of cabinet meetings in the early 40s were made public. Now we know.
The International Red Cross had planned according to one of these documents, to transfer 40,000 Jews from Hungary to Turkey, with one clear intention that they would continue on to Eretz Israel. This intention gave the British no rest. They contacted the Red Cross headquarters and protested against this plan, with the argument that the humanitarian organization had no right to implement it, without the permission of the British government.
The Red Cross plan was dropped. Another 40,000 Hungarian Jews were sent ot the gas chambers, because Britain opposed their transfer to Turkey lest they come to the Land of Israel from there.
On May 15, 1948, I broadcast, directly for the first time, to the small courageous, liberated, fighting nation. These are some of the words I spoke.
"The homeland is historically and geographically an entity. Whoever fails to recognize our right to the entire homeland, does not recognize our right to any of the territories. We shall never yield our natural and eternal right. We shall bear the vision of a full liberation. We shall bear the vision of ultimate redemption, and we shall bring it into realization.
When the day arrives, we shall materialize it. This is an historical rule: a line passing though, or drawn by, someone, as a separation between a Nation's state and a People's country-such an artificial line must disappear."
So it happened between June 5th and June 11th, 1967. Since then, it is our duty, fathers and sons, to see to it that the artificial line which disappeared, never returns. We must not yield our natural and eternal right.
From "The Revolt," by Menachem Begin. Copyright by Menachem Begin. Reprinted by permission of Nash Publishing.
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