Was Menachem Begin a Founder of Israel?

Israel’s sixth prime minister was a leader of consequence and achievement. But how does he relate to Israel’s origins?

Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat during the Egyptian-Israeli peace negotiations at Camp David on September 6, 1978. White House via CNP/Getty Images.

Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat during the Egyptian-Israeli peace negotiations at Camp David on September 6, 1978. White House via CNP/Getty Images.

Observation
July 22 2021
About the authors

Martin Kramer teaches Middle Eastern history and served as founding president at Shalem College in Jerusalem, and is the Walter P. Stern fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Meir Soloveichik is the rabbi of Congregation Shearith Israel in New York and director of the Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought at Yeshiva University.

Avi Shilon, a historian and political scientist, is the author of Menachem Begin: A Life (2012), Ben-Gurion: His Later Years in the Political Wilderness (2016), and, most recently, The Left Wing’s Sorrow: Yossi Beilin and the Decline of the Peace Camp (Hebrew, 2017). He teaches at NYU’s Tel Aviv campus and Ben-Gurion University, and contributes op-ed pieces to Haaretz.

Jonathan Silver is the editor of Mosaic.

On July 13, Mosaic subscribers joined together to watch the 2021 film Upheaval: The Journey of Menachem Begin. Following a screening of the documentary, Mosaic’s editor Jonathan Silver convened a discussion of the question of how Begin relates to Israel’s founding. Joining him were the historians Martin Kramer and Avi Shilon, and Rabbi Meir Soloveichik. A lightly edited transcript of their discussion follows, and a video recording of it can be watched below.

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More about: History & Ideas, Israel & Zionism, Menachem Begin