The Begin phenomenon

The question arises whether Jewish values alone are sufficient for leadership of a Jewish state.

April 26, 2015 16:09
THEN-ISRAELI Major General Ariel Sharon is photographed with Likud party leader Menachem Begin

THEN-ISRAELI Major General Ariel Sharon is photographed with Likud party leader Menachem Begin and Major General Avraham Yoffe in the Sinai Peninsula in 1977.. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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“A GIANT clock hangs above our head, and it is ticking.” The words were reportedly Menachem Begin’s, at a meeting before the 1981 strike on the Osirak nuclear reactor near Baghdad. He was referring to “The Clock Overhead,” a novel by the Holocaust survivor known as Ka-Tzetnik.

This scene, reproduced in Daniel Gordis’s biography, “Menachem Begin: The Battle for Israel’s Soul,” offers an apt lead-in to the persona and politics of Israel’s first Likud prime minister. It has the reference to the Holocaust and the Jewish legacy in Eastern Europe, often muted by leaders in the Labor Zionist movement. It has the air of melodrama and urgency. And it has the implicit call for Jewish defense.


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