His knees did not tremble and his leadership did not waiver. In 1982 Begin told then Senator Joe Biden that he was not a Jew with trembling knees in response to a threat to cut off aid to Israel. He went on to tell Biden something that is the core of my zionism.
I am a proud Jew with 3,700 years of civilized history.
We have been robbed of what our history should have been by actual colonial conquerers of our land, but still our history runs deep and he reminded people to respect that fact.
The man was a terrorist. We live in a time where words are used without a thought to meaning, so much so, that words like Nazi and Apartheid have lost their true meaning. The irony is that so many who call Begin a terrorist see Hamas and Fatah as freedom fighters. So lets talk about what separates him from the others. His love of democracy and his ability to make peace.
I was in Israel when Sadat’s plane touched down and we all held our breath. What we witnessed was what real peace looks like. It does not look like the fake peace of Arafat or the empty words only spoken in English of Abbas. Begin was a true leader who put his people first and did what was best for his people. So did Sadat and I mourn the fact that he was killed for it.
It’s hard to write about a man who was larger than life in a few short paragraphs. What do I include? That he took in Vietnamese boat people? Or that under his leadership we took out Sadam’s nuclear capability? That the Sephardim loved a Polish Jew and helped make him Prime Minister? The former commander of the underground Irgun Tzvai Leumi was a liberator as well as a leader.
Menachem Begin is my blueprint for my zionism, my Jewish identity and what I look for in a leader for my country. In a world of politicians, we need a true leader again.