Last night I attended the big festive celebration of ten years of Menachem Begin Heritage Center and Museum. Security was tight, almost like at a foreign airport, because both Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Ruby Rivlin were to be there. And yes, they were and yes they spoke.
Officially the evening was a tribute to the late Menachem Begin, a Betari who had led the “Irgun” aka “Etzel” in the war of liberation against the British. After that he was leader of the opposition here in Israel until he shocked the Leftist establishment with his Likud victory in 1977. He then served as Prime Minister and shocked the State of Israel and the world by offering Egypt the Sinai in exchange for “peace.” That’s when he lost me as a supporter.
As part of the deal he included the destruction of all of the Jewish communities in the Sinai. Some were “reconstituted” afterwards in Gush Katif, then later destroyed by Ariel Sharon’s Disengagement Plan. My husband works in the Begin Center, which is why I frequently attend its events.
Many people, yes, those who attend events in the Begin Center feel the way I do, but we still highly respect a lot of what Begin did over his long active public life and feel more for Likud members/politicians like Ruby Rivlin than we do for any other high ranking Israelis.
There was much celebrating and applause last night for our President Ruby. Even though the Likud has been in power most of the past thirty-eight years, his election victory was the very first time that a Likudnik, an unabashed Betar Jerusalem supporter and ideological Betari, has been Israel’s President.
In the forty-four 44 years since our aliyah, I have seen so many changes in Israeli society. Not that long ago, you wouldn’t see an identifiable religious person in the Israeli media. Then it began becoming more common to see the man in a discreet kippah. Now we see women, like the evening MC who covers her hair, wears sleeves and high necklines.
There has been lots of progress in Israeli society integrating religious and Right in various roles. The last holdout, and the most difficult, seems to be in academics. That’s why there has been so much protest against the Ariel University.
The success and popularity of the Menachem Begin Heritage Center and Museum is an important step for Israeli society.