Lost Menachem Begin recording to be auctioned

Speech from 1948 was recently discovered in Jerusalem.

October 19, 2018 17:19
2 minute read.
Shimon Peres and Menachem Begin chat at the inaugural session of the 10th Knesset in 1981

Shimon Peres and Menachem Begin chat at the inaugural session of the 10th Knesset in 1981. (photo credit: GPO)


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A recording of a speech by former prime minister Menachem Begin has recently been found in Jerusalem, 70 years after it was made.

The recording, made in 1948, a day after the establishment of the State of Israel, will be up for sale next month at the Kedem Auction House in Jerusalem.

"We won't buy peace from our enemies at the price of giving up our independence," Begin can be heard saying in the recording. "Only one kind of 'peace' was bought at the price of this concession: the peace of the cemetery, the 'peace' of a new Treblinka."

The speech was broadcast live on Saturday evening, May 15, 1948, on the Irgun radio station. According to the Kedem Auction House, at times Begin deviated from his written text while speaking. And four years later, in 1952, he re-recorded the same speech, based on an earlier draft. The 1948 recording was hidden for 70 years, until it was recently unearthed. The auction house did not say who the owner of the recording is or how they found it.

"This historic speech, which has only just been unearthed, provides us with an extraordinary glimpse into the spirit of festivity that is mixed with preparations for the battle that surrounded the founding of the State," said Meron Eren, CEO of Kedem Auction House. "It is a privilege for us to receive such an important piece of the history of the State of Israel, but it is also a duty and we will do our best to share it as widely as possible."

Begin refused a request from his longtime foe, then prime minister David Ben-Gurion, to review his speech before he gave it, according to his book The Revolt. The auction house said that "Begin was tense on the day of the speech. He apparently regretted having refused Ben-Gurion's request, as this could have opened the way for broader agreements between the two, and he was angry at changes made to his earlier wording."

The 1948 speech, made almost 30 years before he became prime minister, contains much of his signature rhetoric.

"The Hebrew government will preserve the independence that was bought by the blood of heroes, and will not surrender from submission to terror," he said. "And our lives will be lit through brotherly love and a love for Israel... in our own country, justice will rule supreme, there will be no tyranny, and the officers will be servants of society. "

The item will go up for auction on November 13 in Jerusalem, and bidding is set to begin at $300,000.

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