Stand back and take it all in
Menachem Begin
Acrylic on canvas
1 x 1m (39.37 x 39.37 inch)

Menachem Begin

מנחם בגין

Menachem Begin was born in Brest-Litovsk, Poland in 1913. In his youth, Begin was a member of the Zionist scouts movement Hashomer Hatzair, and he later joined the Betar Youth Movement at age 16. After acquiring a law degree, in 1938 he became head of Betar Poland’s 70,000-strong members. Begin concentrated on military training, foreseeing the need for Polish Jewry’s defense. At the outbreak of World War 2, he was arrested by the NKVD and sentenced to 8 years in Siberia. He was however released in 1941 after which he joined the Free Polish Army leading him to the Middle East. There he came across the underground movement Etzel/Irgun and quickly rose to its leadership. As the horrors of the Holocaust became known, Begin intensified his opposition to the British, leading several attacks such as the King David Hotel bombing of 1946 and the Acre prison break (1947), in defiance of mainstream Zionism’s policy of restraint. After the State was established the Irgun was disbanded and Begin turned his attention to parliamentary politics. He established his own party called Herut (freedom), later merging with a more liberal party to form the beginnings of the Likud. Begin campaigned relentlessly against the Labor government in 30 years of opposition, and was finally elected to the highest office in 1977. In his six years in office he campaigned for the release of Soviet Jewry, ordered the rescue of Ethiopian Jewry, signed a peace Treaty with Egypt (1979) with the Camp David Accords, for which he received a Nobel prize and destroyed the nuclear reactor in Osirak near Baghdad, Iraq (1981). Begin’s tenure included two incursions into Lebanon to deal with PLO terrorism. He retired from office in 1983.