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March 13, 1992 - Image 1

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1992-03-13

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MARCH 13, 1992 / 8 ADAR 2 5752

Detroiters Recall The Life
Of Israeli Leader M. Begin


Staff Writer


zekiel Leikin came to
Palestine in 1943 soon
after Tel Aviv came
under curfew. A building
had been blasted by the
Irgun Zvai Leumi, the
underground guerrilla force
that battled the British in
the final years of the
Palestine Mandate.
Mr. Leikin was part of an
American troop convoy that
was stopped by a high-
ranking British officer. "We
got mad and said to him,
`What do you mean by stopp-
ing a convoy of American
soldiers,' " Mr. Leikin said.
"The officer turned to us and
said, 'Look, you in America
have Al Capone. We in
Palestine have Menachem
Begin.' "
Menachem Begin, founder
of the Irgun and the sixth
Israeli prime minister, died
after suffering a heart at-
tack early March 9 at
Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv.
He was 78.
A community-wide
memorial service for the
Nobel Peace Prize winner,
and first Israeli leader to
sign a peace treaty with an
Arab neighbor, is scheduled
for 3 p.m. Sunday at the
Zionist Cultural Center on
10 Mile Road in Southfield.
The , ceremony is sponsored
by the Jewish Community
Council, Jewish Federation
of Metropolitan Detroit,
Detroit Zionist Federation
and the Zionist Organization
of America - Detroit District.
"The death of Menachem
Begin brings sorrow to all
who believe in the power of
peace," said Mark Schlussel,
president of the Jewish Fed-
eration of Metropolitan
Detroit, and Jeannie
Weiner, president of the
Jewish Community Council
in a joint statement. "His
devotion to Jewish
nationhood and the reborn
State of Israel will live on in
the hearts of the Jewish peo-
Mr. Begin last visited
Detroit in November 1980 as
guest speaker before the
Council of Jewish Federa-
tions' 49th general
Mr. Leikin, executive vice

Menachem Begin, the man,
the legend and his impact,
Page 34.

president of ZOA in Detroit,
knew Mr. Begin from his
days as leader of the Betar
Zionist Youth Movement in
"He was a great Zionist,
parliamentarian and
orator," Mr. Leikin said.
"Unlike some of the Sabra-
born leaders that preceded
him, Begin didn't view the
Diaspora as some antiquated
relic. To him, Diaspora and
Israel were one, a precious
link between the past and
Mr. Begin, son of a Jewish
timber merchant in czarist
Russia, was buried quickly,
without pomp, on the Mount
of Olives beside his wife,
Aliza, who died in November

A memorial service
is set for 3 p.m.
Sunday at the
Zionist Cultural

1982. He rejected the state
funeral which was his due as
prime minister of Israel from
1977 to 1983. Instead, he
was buried in a cotton
prayer shawl, in the tradi-
tion of Orthodox Jews, who
frown on floral displays and
lying in state.
"The way he chose to die
was indicative of the manner
in which he lived," said
Avner Regev, a journalist,
member of Israel's Labor
Party and former member of

Mr. Begin's negotiating
team at the Camp David Ac-
cords, who is visiting
Detroit. "He rose above the
uglier side of politics and, in
his dealings with people,
was always modest and
Mr. Regev, current scholar
in residence at the Detroit
Zionist Federation, said Mr.
Begin was the last of an elite
group that included Golda
Meir, David Ben-Gurion and
Moshe Dayan, all architects
of the modern State of Israel.
"Something died with him,"
he said. "We haven't got a
leader with the same vision
and leadership."
While Mr. Begin lived in
seclusion since his departure
from office nine years ago,
he was not forgotten. "His
presence was always felt
throughout Israel," Mr.
Regev said.
The former Likud leader
and founder of the right-
wing Herut Party was deep-
ly troubled by the high death
toll from the Lebanon War
in 1982. He suffered a fur-
ther crushing blow when his
wife died. In September
1983, Mr. Begin resigned as
prime minister, saying he
could not continue. He spent
the final decade of his life in
seclusion, living with his
daughter and visited only by
his longtime friend and col-
league Yehiel Kadishai.
"Begin planned on a 48-
hour, 40-kilometer military
operation in Lebanon," said
Mr. Regev. "Instead of 48
hours, we had three years."
Operation Galilee was
begun to rout Palestinian
terrorists in southern Leb-
anon. But it soon escalated
to an invasion of Beirut
itself, Israel's first incursion
into an Arab capital.
"Begin took the secret of
his resignation with him,"
Mr. Regev said. "But most
Israelis believe he resigned
because of the 1982
massacres at Sabra and
Shatila (Palestinian refugee
camps). Above all, Begin
valued loyalty and honor,
and believing himself
betrayed by advisors and
generals, he couldn't go on."
Kenneth Stein, history
professor at Atlanta's Emory
University who also directs
the Middle East program at
Continued on Page 24

What will you think about
when you pull the lever
in the voting booth
on Tuesday?

To The Music

An ancient dance has received a bad rape

Page 67

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