BEGIN: GOOD & BAD
The articles (“Peace in our time?” March 22) on the 40year Egypt-Israel peace accord reminded one of its key player: Menachem Begin.
Begin’s main plus point was his Ahavat Yisrael – his genuine love of fellow Jews. That, and his no-compromise attitude when fighting the British from 1944 to 1948. Only he and his Irgun were up to the task of ousting the British from Eretz Yisrael. Without the Irgun’s King David Hotel bombing, the Officer’s Club Bombing, the “Night of the Beatings,” the Acre Prison Break, the Sergeant’s Affair and the many other attacks on the British military, the British may never have exited the Holy Land.
A case can even be made that Begin was responsible for hastening the end of the British Empire. When in India, Malaya, Burma, Ceylon, Cyprus, Uganda, Sudan, Kenya, Nigeria, Jamaica, etc., they saw how a handful of Jewish fighters in Palestine had forced the withdrawal of the mighty British, they were emboldened to follow likewise.
Conversely, Begin’s main negative point was the bulldozing of Yamit, which by today would likely have become a second Tel Aviv, and his ceding of Sinai to the wily Anwar Sadat in 1979 in exchange for a piece of paper. The Sinai Peninsula was a huge strategic buffer, had three massive air bases with vast training airspace, had tremendous tourist and residential potential, and had the invaluable Abu Rudeis oil field. This oil field could have supplied all of Israel’s needs for the past 40 years and would have enabled her today to have had the highest standard of living in the world. This retreat, together with Begin’s snatching defeat from out of the jaws of victory in 1982, when contrary to the urging of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, he allowed Yasser Arafat and his trapped 14,000 PL0 terrorists to escape Beirut in good order, has been a continuous bane for Israel to this day: “Never give a sucker a second chance!”
Ominously, Zechariah 14 foretells that Egypt may yet be Israel’s main antagonist before Moshiach, just as it was at the time of the Exodus 3,330 years ago. AMNON GOLDBERG Safed