It is time for Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to face his “Menachem Begin moment.”
In 1948, Begin was right. It was not enough for him, when a greater good was at stake — the welfare of the Jewish people. In 1948, Yitzhak Rabin sunk the Altalena, a ship bringing desperately needed arms to Palestine during its War of Independence. Begin’s forces were on the beach and could have attacked Rabin’s forces. The arms on the Altalena were sent to Palestine by Begin’s Revisionist Zionist allies, but David Ben Gurion, the first PM of Israel, ordered the ship sunk.
Begin ordered his men not to strike. Jews do not attack Jews, he said. This is not how we begin a Jewish state.
Begin lost the arms. Begin lost power. And Begin was right — the arms should have come, desperately so, to the Jewish forces fighting for independence. Being in the right was not enough for Begin. There was a higher principle.
Netanyahu is right on his judicial reforms. Not necessarily in every detail, but the gross imbalance in Israel’s judiciary has long required reform. Netanyahu is right to negotiate the reforms with the opposition — which refuses to negotiate. The near hysterical opposition to these reforms is really an attempt to reverse the prior election by preventing Netanyahu from governing. The opposition endangers Israel.
Just this: Uniquely, Netanyahu has the power to stop this civil war, while the opposition will not. What is required of Netanyahu now is a Begin moment. He should pull back. Not because he is wrong, but because a higher principle is at stake: the internal cohesiveness of Israel. Netanyahu must rise to the moment, as Begin did.
Copyright © 2023 by the Intermountain Jewish News