Benny Begin, the “Old School” Israeli Politician Opens Up

June 2, 2011 1:24 pm 1 comment

Government Minister, Dr Benny Begin. Photo: Tzedek-Tzedek.

This week I had the privilege of interviewing Israeli Cabinet Minister Mr. Binyamin (Benny) Begin on my weekly Israel National Radio talk show.

I had noticed that Begin has been relatively quiet in the public eye in his current role as Minister without Portfolio in the Netanyahu government. Nevertheless Begin, speaking less than a week after Prime Minister Netanyahu returned from his well received and perhaps historic or Churchillian address in front of a joint House of Congress was extremely candid about some of the beliefs he has held throughout his life in public service.

Most significantly, while many Israeli politicians including the last six Prime Ministers have been seemingly willing or have openly favored turning over parts of the land of Israel to the Palestinian Authority as part of the process of establishing a “Palestinian State,” Begin has not jumped on that bandwagon. While admitting that he is part of the “old school” of thought, Begin was adamant that establishing an Arab State West of the Jordan River was simply unrealistic and even ludicrous. In his words:

“I think any second state of any nature, another sovereignty west of the Jordan River, especially when it comprises the PLO or Hamas, would negate or contradict two basic rights of the Jewish people and the citizens of Israel.”

Those two rights which Begin spoke of include a. the right of the Jewish people to live in all parts of their ancestral Jewish Homeland and b. the right for Israelis who do in fact live in “pre-1967 Israel” or in other words, the greater Tel Aviv area, comprised of over 75% of Israel’s population, to live in peace and security.

Begin clarified his first point, stressing that the Jewish Homeland “does not stop exactly east of the 1949 armistice demarcation lines, also known (erroneously.) as the ‘Green Line.’” Begin ads “Our right to our land – Including of course the cradle of our history in Judea and Samaria – is obvious.”

On the second point Begin is justifiably pessimistic based on recent history, (especially in regard to what has taken place over the past few months), that ceding territory to a foreign entity is a credible or realistic solution towards peace. He stands by that hesitant outlook now more than ever with the recent Fatah/Hamas alliance.

He says:

“There is also the question of national security, and we have had some experience in the last twenty years under the banner ‘territory for peace’… the actual events have been territory for terror. Every piece of land, every hectare, every acre that was consigned to the PLO reign became a haven for terrorist impunity. And we should anticipate that once we transfer parts of our homeland to the PLO it will be, actually, an indirect transfer of land through the PLO to Hamas, and to Iran.”

In regard to the most recent realities here in Israel Begin says that two specific incidents: the Fatah/Hamas unity deal and the “Nakba” riots last month which saw the infiltration of Northern Israel by over 100 Syrian radicals, along with riots throughout Judea and Samaria, prove the Arabs have no intention of making peace with the Jewish state.

In reference to the latter incident Begin makes an original point. If the Arabs living in Israel (including those in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza), truly became hostile as a result of the so-called “occupation,” then why is their “Nakba” or “devastation” marked annually on May 15th the date on which the State of Israel was established in 1948?  Why don’t they commemorate he asks, their “Nakba” during the second week in June, marking the 1967 return of Jewish control over Judea, Samaria, Gaza, the Golan, and Jerusalem?  True a relatively new phenomenon called “Naska” or the “setback” is marked in June, but if the “occupation” is the route of all evils, shouldn’t that be the real “Nakba?” The fact that May 15 is the set date for rioting says Begin, proves that the Arabs view “the very establishment of the State of Israel,” as their true “calamity.”

Finally Begin turns his shift to Israel’s public relations efforts, which are seemingly under constant scrutiny.  He concedes that Israel is at a disadvantage when trying to make its case since the Arabs have vastly greater resources (meaning dollars), when it comes to their Israel bashing. But one thing Israel does have he says, is a moral leg to stand on.

“One of the nice things about our ‘propaganda,’” says Begin, “is that we don’t have to sell lies. We can suffice ourselves with telling people things as they are. We have to tell them the truth. And we have to ask them to judge. Because once they know the facts they will be able use moral judgment.”

He then cites the fabrication filled op-ed written by PA head Mahmoud Abbas in the New York Times last month as the ultimate in anti-Israel propaganda. Nevertheless, Begin is optimistic that readers will see through the lies and “see easily for themselves what kind of narrative, or actually what kind of lies, the PLO tries to sell intelligent people in America and elsewhere. He adds that “It (the article) is untenable, it is unacceptable, and it takes things to such an extreme in such a manner that we can easily prove the narrative is totally false.” In addition Begin says that  “Such articles will only help us,” I don’t know if this would take effect immediately It takes time, but people of good will, if they will stand up and work for truth – for morality – I think it would be a great help to the cause of real justice in our part of the world.”

In the end it easy to understand that despite carrying out his duties under the radar this time around, why Begin has earned the endearing respect of his colleagues on all sides of the Israeli political debate. His soft spoken tone, extreme humility, and overall commitment to the State of Israel and the People of Israel prove that perhaps being part of the “old school,” is not that bad after all.

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Middle East Hamas Commander Reportedly Urges Hezbollah to Join Forces Against Israel

    Hamas Commander Reportedly Urges Hezbollah to Join Forces Against Israel

    JNS.org – Five months after Israeli forces tried to assassinate Hamas military commander Mohammed Deif in Gaza, Deif appears to have signed a letter that the terrorist group claims he wrote in hiding. The letter, addressed to Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah, expressed Deif’s condolences for the death of Hezbollah terrorists during Sunday’s reported Israeli airstrike in Syria. Deif is said to have survived multiple assassination attempts, but he has not been seen in public for years. According to the Hezbollah-linked Al-Manar [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Theater Shlomo Carlebach Musical Has the Soul to Heal Frayed Race Relations

    Shlomo Carlebach Musical Has the Soul to Heal Frayed Race Relations

    JNS.org – The cracks that had been simply painted over for so long began to show in Ferguson, Mo., in November 2014, but in truth they had begun to open wide much earlier—on Saturday, July 13, 2013. That is when a jury in Sanford, Fla., acquitted George Zimmerman of culpability for the death of a 17-year-old black man, Trayvon Martin. The cracks receded from view over time, as other news obscured them. Then came the evening of Aug. 9, 2014, [...]

    Read more →
  • Theater US & Canada ‘Homeland’ Season Finale Stirs Controversy After Comparing Menachem Begin to Taliban Leader

    ‘Homeland’ Season Finale Stirs Controversy After Comparing Menachem Begin to Taliban Leader

    A controversial scene in the season finale of Homeland sparked outrage by comparing former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin to a fictional Taliban leader, the UK’s Daily Mail reported. In the season 4 finale episode, which aired on Dec. 21, CIA black ops director Dar Adal, played by F. Murray Abraham, justifies a deal he made with a Taliban leader by referencing Begin. He makes the remarks in a conversation with former CIA director Saul Berenson, a Jewish character played by Mandy [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Spirituality/Tradition Placing Matisyahu Back Within a Life of Observance

    Placing Matisyahu Back Within a Life of Observance

    Shining Light on Fiction During the North Korea-Sony saga, we learned two important lessons. The first is that there are two sides to this story, and neither of them are correct because ultimately we should have neither inappropriate movies nor dictators. The second is that we cannot remain entirely fixed on the religious world, but we also must see beyond the external, secular view of reality. It’s important to ground our Torah-based thoughts into real-life activism. To view our act [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Nine Decades of Moses at the Movies

    Nine Decades of Moses at the Movies

    JNS.org – Hollywood has had its share of big-budget biblical flops, but until now, the Exodus narrative has not been among them. Studios have brought Moses to the big screen sparingly, but in ways that defined the image and character of Moses for each generation of audiences. The first biblical epic In 1923, director Cecil B. DeMille left it to the American public to decide the subject of his next movie for Paramount. DeMille received a letter from a mechanic [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Exodus on Screen (REVIEW)

    Exodus on Screen (REVIEW)

    JNS.org – The story of the Exodus from Egypt is a tale as old as time itself, to borrow a turn of phrase. It’s retold every Passover, both at the seder table and whenever “The Ten Commandments” is aired on television. But the latest adaptation—Ridley Scott’s epic film, “Exodus: Gods and Kings”—fails to meet expectations. Scott’s “Exodus” alters the source material to service the story and ground the tale, but the attempt to reinvent the biblical narrative becomes laughable. Moses [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Lifestyle ‘Jewish Food Movement’ Comes of Age

    ‘Jewish Food Movement’ Comes of Age

    JNS.org - In December 2007, leaders of the Hazon nonprofit drafted seven-year goals for what they coined as the “Jewish Food Movement,” which has since been characterized by the increased prioritization of healthy eating, sustainable agriculture, and food-related activism in the Jewish community. What do the next seven years hold in store? “One thing I would like to see happen in the next seven years is [regarding] the issue of sugar, soda, and obesity, [seeing] what would it be like to rally the [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Education Seeds of ‘Start-Up Nation’ Cultivated by Israel Sci-Tech Schools

    Seeds of ‘Start-Up Nation’ Cultivated by Israel Sci-Tech Schools

    JNS.org – Forget the dioramas. How about working on an Israeli Air Force drone? That’s exactly the kind of beyond-their-years access enjoyed by students at the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) industrial vocational high school run by Israel Sci-Tech Schools, the largest education network in the Jewish state. More than 300 students (250 on the high school level and 68 at a two-year vocational academy) get hands-on training in the disciplines of aviation mechanics, electricity and energy control, and unmanned air [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.