Friday, March 18, 2011

Another Purim Message: Begin to Sadat, like Achashverosh to Haman

My husband's opening remarks at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center's Elitzur Memorial Evening, a book launch for Peace in the Making: The Menachem Begin - Anwar Sadat Personal Correspondence included a quotation from one of the book's letters, in which Begin complains to Sadat that words and actions of the Egyptian Government contradicts their signed agreements:
Prime Minister Begin to President Sadat, August 4, 1980
2. I will, of course, come back to the issues of Jerusalem, but I would like now to respond to another point in your letter, on which you dwell rather extensively: Good faith, goodwill, mutual understanding, promoting peace and cooperation.

These are the facts:

a) Your Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Boutrus Ghali, pays visits to African countries and repeatedly influences their governments not to renew diplomatic relations with Israel. Is not this unilateral action a clear breach of the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty, annex III, Article 5, Section 3, which stipulates:

"The parties shall seek to foster mutual understanding and tolerance and will, accordingly, abstain from hostile propaganda against each other."

This, certainly, is hostile propaganda in third countries which used to say that they cannot renew diplomatic relations with Israel as long as there is a state of war between it and an African state (Egypt). But now there is peace between Egypt and Israel. A peace treaty was signed between us and duly ratified. Why, then, this unilateral act of hostility towards Israel?

b) If the Egyptian delegate to the United Nations Emergency General Assembly votes for the most hostile anti-Israel resolution since that other abominable resolution was adopted in the Assembly equating Zionism - one of the most humane, national liberation movements in history - with racism (for which we, the Jews, have been and are the first victims), is not this a unilateral act of hostility contrary to our peace treaty?

c) The Egyptian delegate voted for a resolution demanding that by November 15, Israel withdraws from Judea, Samaria (my language), the Gaza District, the Golan Heights and Jerusalem. Is not this a flagrant contradiction of the Camp David agreement? There it is written: "A withdrawal of Israeli armed forces will take place and there will be a redeployment of the remaining Israeli forces into specified security locations" - this, following the election of the self-governing authority (administrative council). It is also written in the Camp David agreement: "All necessary measures will be taken and provisions made to assure the security of Israel and its neighbours during the transitional period and beyond."

"The transitional period," agreed between Egypt, the United States and Israel, is five years; "beyond" is indefinite. "The remaining forces" mean army units which remain (in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza District). Yet your delegate voted in the United Nations in favour of an "ultimatum" to Israel to commence evacuation of these territories in less than five months.

d) The Egyptian delegate made a speech at the United Nations in which he said, inter alia:

i) Israel should withdraw to the pre-June 5, 1967 lines, whether on the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. Where, Mr. President, is this written in the Camp David agreement? The quotations mentioned above tell us of stipulations that are completely different.

ii) Israeli withdrawal should be complete including that of the military forces, settlements should be dismantled and settlers removed. Where is this passage mentioned at all in the Camp David accord?

iii) "The Palestinian people should exercise, without any external interference, the inalienable and fundamental right to self-determination, including the right to establish an independent state on the West Bank and Gaza.

Thus, the Egyptian delegate to the United Nations.

However, not one word about self-determination (which, of course, means a state), or about an independent (Palestinian) state appears in any one of the pages, paragraphs, sections, sub-sections etc. of the Camp David agreement. Dr. Ghali, speaking of behalf of Egypt, committed almost incomprehensible deviations from, and total contradictions, to, the Camp David accord which you and I signed and which our friend President Carter signed as witness, and which all of us are obligated to carry out in good faith in accordance with the old golden rule: Pacta sunt servanda. It is not Israel, Mr. President, which commits a breach of our peace treaty of the other, not yet fulfilled, part of the Camp David agreement; spokesmen of Egypt, of various levels, do.

3. In this conjunction it is also my duty to turn your attention again to the fact that one of your official newspapers likened me to the "embodiment of all evil in mankind," (to use a Churchillian description), Adolph Hitler. I would not refer back to this shame, were it not for the fact that this "hostile propaganda", which Egypt undertook to abstain from conducting still goes on and on in a press which is not free of Government influence. Again I was called, by one of the Egyptian newspapers, "Shylock", an epithet hurled at the Jew by all his haters and detractors who originally, in Germany, were termed "Anti-Semites". (Of course, we Arabs and Jews are all Semites). I will refrain from listing other names, or articles, or curses. But, Mr. President, is this the way "to foster mutual understanding"?

4. On Jerusalem: With this letter I attach three documents: a) my letter to President Carter of September17, 1978; b) the Law of the Holy Places adopted by the Knesset in June 1967; and c) the Basic Law: Jerusalem, Capital of Israel, adopted by the Knesset last week.

I am aware that you wrote a letter about Jerusalem to President Carter, who also wrote to me a letter after having withdrawn his first draft. About that draft we said to our American friends that should it become official we shall not sign the Camp David agreement which was already completed on that Sunday, September 17, 1978.

I put to you a simple, logical question: By what letter should we, Israel, stand? By yours? By President Carter's? Or by the letter of Israel's Prime Minister who, on this matter, speaks for ninety-five per cent of the Israeli people, without distinction of party affiliation?

I have never misled you, nor anybody else. Time and again I repeated that Jerusalem, in its entirety, is the capital of Israel, a city re-united and indivisible for all generations.

Yes, indeed, there are in Jerusalem places holy to Christians and Moslems. We respect them. It was not so under Jordanian occupation as far as the Jewish Holy Places were concerned. Israel assures men and women of all religions absolutely free access to the places sacred to them, guaranteed by the Basic Law forever. We know that from the point of view of religious faith Jerusalem is holy to Christians and Moslems. To the Jewish people Jerusalem is not only holy; it is their history for thee millennia, their heart, their dream, the visible symbol of their national redemption.

You assure me, Mr. President, that you are for the unity of Jerusalem but in your speech at the National Press Club in Washington, a few months ago, you demanded that "Eastern Jerusalem" be put under Arab sovereignty. This is a contradiction in terms. Two sovereignties over one city mean its re-partition. Impossible. Jerusalem is and will be one, under Israel's sovereignty, its indivisible capital in which Jews and Arabs will dwell together in peace and in human dignity. Whosoever declares that the sovereign acts of our democratic Parliament are null and void makes a declaration which is null and void.

The same applies to our settlements in Judea, Samaria, the Gaza District and the Golan Heights. They are legal and legitimate and they are an integral part of our national security. None of them will ever be removed. I made a statement to this effect in Aswan, in your presence, in public, before the press and media of the world. I said the same. Of course, to President Carter time and again since July, 1977.

5. You mentioned Resolution 242. As you will recall, that Resolution refers to withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories - not the territories - and the Resolution's authors have consistently affirmed that it does not command Israel to withdraw to the pre-June 5, 1967 lines.

Mr. President, we traveled a long road towards peace. There were discussion, nocturnal sessions, crises, renewed efforts - and let us never forget those of President Carter - until our labours bore fruit. Let us continue. We would like to have representatives of the Arab inhabitants of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza District (not the PLO) around the table. But, incited and intimidated by the inflammatory and terrorist actions of the PLO they don't come ab initio. We cannot force them. Can Egypt bring them to the table? You know the facts as well as I do. All of us invited King Hussein; he recently declared that he will never join negotiations under the Camp David agreement. Can anyone of us change his attitude? I read your speeches on this subject.

Israel showed its good faith. We could have said: let us rather wait with the autonomy negotiations until Jordan and representatives of the Palestinian Arabs join the talks. We did not say so. You were willing to go ahead with these negotiations; we accepted and we negotiate with you.

However, four times Egypt unilaterally suspended the autonomy talks. Do these repeated suspensions contribute to the urgent need of solving the problems under the Camp David accord?

Let us, therefore, dispense with further unilateral suspensions. Let us renew our negotiations. We have differences of opinion. They do not, they should not, exclude another agreement on full autonomy for the inhabitants of the West Bank and Gaza (Judea, Samaria and the Gaza District) as written in the Camp David agreement.

Let us negotiate. Let us determine together the date for the renewal of the talks. Let us, as the past proves, reason together until we reach the agreement and pave the way for peace in this region, the cradle of human civilization.

With my best wishes to you and Mrs. Sadat,

Menachem Begin
This reminds me of something we had learned at Atara Snowbell's Megilat Ester class at Matan just before the Begin Center event.  A careful reading of Megillat (the Scroll of) Ester makes us wonder why King Achashverosh acted so surprised when informed by Esther that his government had plans to destroy the Jewish People.  Hadn't he heard that from Haman and approved of it completely?
ג וַתַּעַן אֶסְתֵּר הַמַּלְכָּה, וַתֹּאמַר--אִם-מָצָאתִי חֵן בְּעֵינֶיךָ הַמֶּלֶךְ, וְאִם-עַל-הַמֶּלֶךְ טוֹב: תִּנָּתֶן-לִי נַפְשִׁי בִּשְׁאֵלָתִי, וְעַמִּי בְּבַקָּשָׁתִי. 3 Then Esther the queen answered and said: 'If I have found favour in thy sight, O king, and if it please the king, let my life be given me at my petition, and my people at my request;
ד כִּי נִמְכַּרְנוּ אֲנִי וְעַמִּי, לְהַשְׁמִיד לַהֲרוֹג וּלְאַבֵּד; וְאִלּוּ לַעֲבָדִים וְלִשְׁפָחוֹת נִמְכַּרְנוּ, הֶחֱרַשְׁתִּי--כִּי אֵין הַצָּר שֹׁוֶה, בְּנֵזֶק הַמֶּלֶךְ. {ס} 4 for we are sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be slain, and to perish. But if we had been sold for bondmen and bondwomen, I had held my peace, for the adversary is not worthy that the king be endamaged.' {S}
ה וַיֹּאמֶר הַמֶּלֶךְ אֲחַשְׁוֵרוֹשׁ, וַיֹּאמֶר לְאֶסְתֵּר הַמַּלְכָּה: מִי הוּא זֶה וְאֵי-זֶה הוּא, אֲשֶׁר-מְלָאוֹ לִבּוֹ לַעֲשׂוֹת כֵּן. 5 Then spoke the king Ahasuerus and said unto Esther the queen: 'Who is he, and where is he, that durst presume in his heart to do so?'
ו וַתֹּאמֶר אֶסְתֵּר--אִישׁ צַר וְאוֹיֵב, הָמָן הָרָע הַזֶּה; וְהָמָן נִבְעַת, מִלִּפְנֵי הַמֶּלֶךְ וְהַמַּלְכָּה. 6 And Esther said: 'An adversary and an enemy, even this wicked Haman.' Then Haman was terrified before the king and the queen.
ז וְהַמֶּלֶךְ קָם בַּחֲמָתוֹ, מִמִּשְׁתֵּה הַיַּיִן, אֶל-גִּנַּת, הַבִּיתָן; וְהָמָן עָמַד, לְבַקֵּשׁ עַל-נַפְשׁוֹ מֵאֶסְתֵּר הַמַּלְכָּה--כִּי רָאָה, כִּי-כָלְתָה אֵלָיו הָרָעָה מֵאֵת הַמֶּלֶךְ. 7 And the king arose in his wrath from the banquet of wine and went into the palace garden; but Haman remained to make request for his life to Esther the queen; for he saw that there was evil determined against him by the king.
And even more careful and thorough reading shows that Haman didn't give any real details.  When Haman proposed his plan to Achashverosh, he made it seem much more benign.  They would just move the problematic ethnic group into protective ghettos.
ח וַיֹּאמֶר הָמָן, לַמֶּלֶךְ אֲחַשְׁוֵרוֹשׁ--יֶשְׁנוֹ עַם-אֶחָד מְפֻזָּר וּמְפֹרָד בֵּין הָעַמִּים, בְּכֹל מְדִינוֹת מַלְכוּתֶךָ; וְדָתֵיהֶם שֹׁנוֹת מִכָּל-עָם, וְאֶת-דָּתֵי הַמֶּלֶךְ אֵינָם עֹשִׂים, וְלַמֶּלֶךְ אֵין-שֹׁוֶה, לְהַנִּיחָם. 8 And Haman said unto king Ahasuerus: 'There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of thy kingdom; and their laws are diverse from those of every people; neither keep they the king's laws; therefore it profiteth not the king to suffer them.
ט אִם-עַל-הַמֶּלֶךְ טוֹב, יִכָּתֵב לְאַבְּדָם; וַעֲשֶׂרֶת אֲלָפִים כִּכַּר-כֶּסֶף, אֶשְׁקוֹל עַל-יְדֵי עֹשֵׂי הַמְּלָאכָה, לְהָבִיא, אֶל-גִּנְזֵי הַמֶּלֶךְ. 9 If it please the king, let it be written that they be destroyed; and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver into the hands of those that have the charge of the king's business, to bring it into the king's treasuries.'
I highlighted the word לְאַבְּדָם which is inaccurately translated here as "destroyed." לאבד L'abed  means to lose something, not to destroy it.  So it's clear that Haman carefully worded his proposal to Achasverosh to make it seem as humanitarian as possible, even though his actual intention was destruction:
ו וַיִּבֶז בְּעֵינָיו, לִשְׁלֹחַ יָד בְּמָרְדֳּכַי לְבַדּוֹ--כִּי-הִגִּידוּ לוֹ, אֶת-עַם מָרְדֳּכָי; וַיְבַקֵּשׁ הָמָן, לְהַשְׁמִיד אֶת-כָּל-הַיְּהוּדִים אֲשֶׁר בְּכָל-מַלְכוּת אֲחַשְׁוֵרוֹשׁ--עַם מָרְדֳּכָי. 6 But it seemed contemptible in his eyes to lay hands on Mordecai alone; for they had made known to him the people of Mordecai; wherefore Haman sought to destroy all the Jews that were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus, even the people of Mordecai.
The lesson here is to pay careful attention to what the enemy is saying among for internal consumption and not what their public relations experts prepare for outsiders.

May we recognize the truth behind the mask.

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Purim Same'ach!


Anonymous said...

Too bad Begin didn't recognize it from the get go until his dying moment.

Batya said...

It was so easy to predict, and it keeps on repeating. The time of Shoftim until Kings was over 300 years. We can't wait so long.

YMedad said...

The use of the Hebrew verb לאבד is most definitely a connotation of death, killing, destrcution.

In Yehezkel 22:27:
כז שָׂרֶיהָ בְקִרְבָּהּ, כִּזְאֵבִים טֹרְפֵי טָרֶף--לִשְׁפָּךְ-דָּם לְאַבֵּד נְפָשׁוֹת, לְמַעַן בְּצֹעַ בָּצַע.

to cause souls to be 'lost' by death

and in II Kings 13:7

כִּי לֹא הִשְׁאִיר לִיהוֹאָחָז עָם, כִּי אִם-חֲמִשִּׁים פָּרָשִׁים וַעֲשָׂרָה רֶכֶב, וַעֲשֶׂרֶת אֲלָפִים, רַגְלִי: כִּי אִבְּדָם מֶלֶךְ אֲרָם, וַיְשִׂמֵם כֶּעָפָר לָדֻשׁ.

to destroy and make into dust

Batya said...

Isn't לְהַשְׁמִיד a stronger word?

YMedad said...

Yes, that word would probably be considered stronger but that may be a subjective opinion.

Nevertheless, that term is used together with another three that I would think all point to an action of death and destruction and not as you prefer:

Esther 3:13 -

לְהַשְׁמִיד לַהֲרֹג וּלְאַבֵּד אֶת-כָּל-הַיְּהוּדִים מִנַּעַר וְעַד-זָקֵן טַף וְנָשִׁים בְּיוֹם אֶחָד