Menahem Begin – Irgun Commander

An interview Menachem Begin gave to the Herald Tribune in March 1947 and reprinted later for relevance to the formation of a provisional government in Israel. The IZL is prepared for a long and difficult struggle with the British. Though the IZL wants to end the policy of reprisals, it will continue the policy until its members are treated as combatants, even if it means hanging British soldiers if its own members are hanged. The IZL has had contact with Arabs in Palestine, though it has been limited. The IZL has plans to carry out attacks outside of Palestine. They do not favor but will not oppose the discussion of Palestine at the UN. The Soviet Union is against the idea of Jewish immigration to Israel from other countries but has a point in that some Jews seem to favor elements of British imperialism. The IZL is not Fascist because it is fighting for survival, is against totalitarianism, and is in favor of democracy and individual freedoms.

A Lesson in Democracy

Begin writes a response to a letter doubting Begin’s peace efforts. The original letter suggests Begin to go to the polls and argues that if he does not have majority support, he should no longer remain Prime Minister. Begin’s response letter first acknowledges that Israel is not just a country for its residents, but also a country belonging to Diaspora Jews. He also says that a national election is an internal issue. Then Begin talks about how his campaign in the 1977 national election focused on “the political-security problems and the socioeconomic problems.” Israelis voted for Begin fully aware of his political-security visions. Begin talks about how he takes his duty as Prime Minister seriously and it’s his responsibility to strengthen Israel’s security. Begin believes that strengthening Israel’s security means having peace with its neighbors. He claims that the original letter’s idea of security would lead to permanent bloodshed and thus, threaten Israel’s existence.

The Statesman

Begin writes about Ze’ev Jabotinsky and provides examples to prove that Jabotinsky was a statesman. First Begin compares a statesman to a musician, painter, and sculptor. He does this to show that it takes time to realize that someone is a statesman, just how it takes time to realize someone is a musician, a painter, or a sculptor. Then Begin provides examples through history that led people to see Jabotinsky as a statesman. For example, he predicted that Britain would open a front in the Middle East. Additionally, he argued that Zionists must not be neutral and help Britain fight Turkey. Also, he realized that a Jewish British High Commissioner was an anti-Zionist. Lastly, Begin mentions that Jabotinsky knew that for survival, there must be a Jewish Army. In all of these circumstances, Jabotinsky was correct, proving he is a statesman.

Address By Prime Minister Menachem Begin to the Egyptian People

A speech Begin addressed to the Egyptian people near the beginning of the peace process with Egypt. The two nations have been engaged in conflict since Egypt invaded Israel upon its declaration of independence. Egyptian attempts to destroy Israel were all in vain and unnecessary. Israel has and will continue to defend itself if attacked, but it does not want to fight at all. Egypt and Israel were allies in ancient times, and they can be again. President Sadat has offered to come to soeak in the Knesset so that no more Egyptian soldiers will be hurt, and Israel welcomes him with open arms. The Koran says that Israel belongs to the Jews. Both sides can find common ground in religion and other areas to live in peace.

A Lesson in Democracy

Upon taking office I gave an oath of allegiance before the Knesset to the effect that I would faithfully fulfil my duty as Prime Minister of Israel.  And, Mr. Sacher, I intend to do my best and utmost to fulfil my duty for the constitutional duration of the 9th Parliament.  I shall do so as … Continued