Menachem Begin Speaks to the American People

Begin is interviewed on “Meet the Press” during his visit to the United States. The interview first focuses on Israel’s relationship with its Arab neighbors and Begin’s stance against concessions prior to peace treaties. Then Begin speaks about why Israel should not be deemed responsible for the breakdown of the Israeli-Egyptian talks. There are questions about Arab refugees, with Yasser Arafat as an example of a refugee from Jerusalem. Begin makes clear that one cannot compare the PLO to Etzel. The interview goes back to discussing Henry Kissinger’s efforts to bring peace in the Middle East. Additionally, Begin expresses concern in U.S. discontinuing its assistance to Israel. Begin also argues that Israel is not isolated by the world. The interview concludes with Begin saying, “…if the Arabs know that Israel is indestructible, they will think about peace. If they know that their artillery can obliterate us, then the chance of peace is lost.”

No, Dr. Kissinger!

Begin emphasizes the importance of not retreating to the 1967 borders. Israel was offered an end to belligerency in exchange for the retreat, however Begin is unimpressed. To explain the situation in a way that is more understandable for an American audience, he compares it to the hypothetical situation America would find itself in if Russia offered eternal peace if they allowed them to occupy Washington and destroy the US nuclear stockpile and missiles. Begin finds Dr. Kissinger’s plan reminiscent of the Rogers Plan, which he rejected. He describes Dr. Kissinger’s plan as a “step-by-step approach to the plan of our total disintegration.” He argues that this disintegration of Israel will also have negative effects on America because it is possible that the Arabs will force the US to exert pressure on Israel, and if they do and Israel surrenders as a result, “there will be no bounds to Arab blackmail, which will be supported by Russia.”

We Seek a Mandate from the Nation to Form a Government

An interview Begin gave to Rafael Bashan of Yediot Aharonot during the negotiations for the formation of the Likud bloc. Begin asserts that there is a strong common denominator between the various parties that are trying to form this new bloc. Contrary to rumors that Begin chose the name ‘opposition alignment’ no name had as yet been chosen for the new bloc. The time of the National Unity Government is over, and a one-party government would not function better but would be worse for democracy. The government, while not being able to carry out the program, had undertaken to give back parts of Judea and Samaria. Begin believes that the public needed to see a party staying 100% committed to its principles. He is proud of his demand in 1967 that Moshe Dayan be made the Minister of Defence because the national unity government that resulted greatly helped Israeli and IDF morale in the days leading up to the Six Day War. Begin demands settlement of all of the Land of Israel.

The Jarring Mission

Begin describes the recent struggles within the Government. He first discusses the U.S. -Israel relationship and how it needs constant clarification. However, positive change in the relationship happened. Begin describes the decisions made in 1970 regarding Dr. Gunnar Jarring’s peace efforts based on the Rogers Initiative. Ultimately, the U.S. agreed with Israel’s views, including William Rogers. Begin then shares that in Rabin’s most recent trip to Israel, he did not visit his superior, Foreign Minister Abba Eban. A reason for this could be because documents Rabin marked as “Top Secret” were handed over for publication. Begin contemplates who could have leaked the documents and believes it is a national scandal with serious international repercussions. Begin then goes into more detail how it is problematic that Ministers publically share their voting decisions. Begin fears that “administration which acts in this matter is endangering the foundations of Israel’s statehood.”

One Can’t ‘Annex’ One’s Own Soil

A discussion of the legal framework for annexing Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip after the Six-Day War. In it, Begin draws comparisons to other situations involving territory seized during war, such as Alsace-Lorraine and the Japanese islands of Sikoto and Habomay, conquered by Russia during World War II. Begin’s main thesis is that it is entirely acceptable to maintain control of the liberated territories, as they are inseparable parts of the historical land of Israel.