A reprinting of a chapter from Begin’s book, THE REVOLT, which appeared as part of a series of reprints of Begin’s book in the New York Post. Begin describes the events surrounding the battle of Dir Yassin, which was called a massacre in the international media and by the Labor Zionists. Dir Yassin was a strategically important village from which attacks against aid convoys to Jerusalem were launched. The Etzel and the Lehi launched a joint operation to capture the village and provide relief to Jewish forces in Jerusalem. The Etzel warned the civilians to leave before the fighting, giving up the element of surprise. The fighting in Dir Yassin was intense, leading to many casualties on both sides. Arab forces hoping to gain a propaganda victory spread rumors about a wanton massacre at Dir Yassin, and Labor elements, hoping to discredit the Etzel as political opponents, also helped spread the rumor. The unintended result was the fleeing or surrendering of Arabs throughout the country, making the overall war effort much easier for Jewish forces.
Subjects: Deir Yassin
In response to new accusations of a massacre at Deir Yassin, Begin explains the Irgun’s policies. He also goes into specific detail about the events at Deir Yassin, noting that it was an armed Arab outpost and any non-combatants killed, died in the course of a battle.
Begin writes an open letter to Leonid Brezhnev, the first secretary of the Communist Party in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. In this letter, Begin writes about his and the Jewish people’s relationship with Russia throughout the years. Ultimately, he explains that the purpose of his open letter is to discuss a false report the journalists’ union posted about Deir Yassin. He is frustrated that the Etzel is portrayed as a gang, when it was really a liberation organization. Begin argues that the Soviet Union is changing facts so that “white has become black and black has become white.” He points out that leaders during the time of Etzel believed that a Jewish State should exist. He briefly mentions his disgust towards the verdicts of the Leningrad trials and in his conclusion says that Russian justice is actually unjust.
Begin shares his various encounters with Zionist youth, nationally and internationally. In one situation, American Zionists associated with Hashomer Hatzair distributed leaflets comparing Gahal to Fatah outside of Begin’s hotel. The leaflet argues that both want to be in complete control of the entire region, and the conclusion they draw is that neither Gahal nor Fatah will bring peace and justice to the Middle East. Begin is more upset about Zionists publically shaming Israel than his party being compared to Fatah. He also shares the response he gives to Zionist youth who ask him about Deir Yassin. Begin then shifts to sharing positive interactions with Zionist youth. He focuses on Russian Jews and their nationalistic beliefs. Begin briefly brings up the increase in aliyah post- Six Day War and concludes that he hopes that more Zionist youth will bring comfort, instead of distress regarding the future of Israel.
An interview Begin gave to Chris Wallace. Begin felt persecuted as a Jew and witnessed persecution against Jews from his childhood through his college years. He joined Zeev Jabotinsky’s Betar movement and decided that the Jews had to fight for their own state. Allegations that the Irgun was a bunch of cowards who killed randomly and would not face the enemy in open conflict were completely wrong, as the warnings before attacks, storming of Acre prison, and brave deaths of the Gallows Martyrs proves. Begin says that all people and organizations, including the Irgun, make mistakes. He regrets the civilian deaths at Dir Yassin, but it was a fierce battle to conquer the town which had many casualties on both sides. The Irgun and the Lechi were too small to believe in force. War is a terrible tragedy, because once it begins innocent people are guaranteed to die no matter how careful an army is.