By Tom Brennan
Menachem Begin’s life reads like a novel. It has drama, adventure, war and peace. Best of all it is all true. Israel’s debt to this man is immeasurable. In today’s war torn environment with The Caliphate advancing, Gaza and Hezbollah sabre-rattling and Iran threatening, the peace treaty with Egypt has produced a certain amount of security for both parties. The peace with Egypt was the work of Menachem Begin.
Begin was born in 1913 in Brest-Litovsk. His fmily fled to avoid the war as Germany and Russian armies battled in that region. He grew into a fully commited Zionist and was a leader in several Betar youth organizations. He was sent to Siberia during Stalin’s purges but was later freed . He joined the Free Polish Army and was sent to Palestine for military training. There he used his organizing skills with the Irgun in preparing to bring in refugees from Europe. He also worked with the underground to resist the occupying British. The 1947 successful Akko prison break and the bombing of the British administrative offices in the King David Hotel were his work.
Elected to the Knesset in 1947 he was a leader of the opposition. He was a founder of the Herut Party and then worked with the Likud . A national unity government was formed and by 1977 a peace process that had begin with President Nasser of Egypt was finalized with a formal treaty. Prime Minister Begin and President Sadat were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1978 for the landmark treaty between the two former bitter enemies.
In 1981 Begin ordered the Israeli air attack on Iraq’s Osirak reactor complex. The Gulf War of 1991 verified the possibility of a nuclear armed future Iraq. In 1982 he saw that Operation Peace in Galilee opposed PLO activities in the north country of Israel. He also helped initiate the eventual emigration of a threatened population of Ethiopian Jews . Menachem Begin’s career began as an undegrgound organizer, planner and soldier. He eventually carried Israel to new heights with a peace treaty with a powerful nation, Egypt, that today secures Israel’s southern borders and endured through Egypt’s short lived revolutions in the last few years. The present government of Egypt has seen the value of a working relationship with a nation it had sworn to wipe off the map. Jordan eventually saw the value of peace and all three cooperate in a number of security issues.
In 1982 Begin resigned from government after the death of his beloved wife Aliza. The former Prime Minister lived a life of seclusion by choice, appearing only at family events. He died in 1992 and is buried on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.
Menachem Begin’s heritage is one shared by Israelis and Christians alike. Egypt had waged war against Israel on numerous occasions. Russian backed and supplied, the nation fielded a large army, powerful air force and effective navy. Israel’s persistent determination to stand its ground impressed Nasser and his successor Sadat. In spite of the continual war threats from the other Muslim nations, Egypt’s government saw that peace was the best alternative to costly wars and conflicts. Begin insisted on terms favorable to Israel and Sadat accepted. Both men came to an agreement that has spared many lives in both nations. In Israel perhaps only Begin could have made the pact come to life. He had been a fighter and defender of israel since his youth and acted in the best interests of Israel’s future. He was able to meet a former enemy in a state of honor and strength. If only other nations besides Egypt and Jordan could achieve this common sense of reality. Israel will never surrender or compromise.Once hostile nations realize this they should find a common ground and work out solutions that will let all the peoples of the Middle East live in peace, productivity and freedom. Menachem Begin has shown them the way.Share this page with your friends
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