“Daniel Gordis, author of a forthcoming biography Menachem Begin: The Battle For Israel’s Soul, summed up Begin’s legacy in a Jerusalem Post article in August 2013, “Menachem Begin: His Legacy, a Century After his Birth” : “That is a legacy infinitely greater than most are able to bequeath. In an era in which many Jews are increasingly dubious about the legitimacy of love for a specific people or devotion to its ancestral homeland, the life and commitments of Begin urge us to look again at what he did and what he stood for, and to imagine – if we dare – the glory of a Jewish people recommitted to the principles that shaped his very being.”
In 1913, in Brest Litovsk, a town in the Russian empire, Menachem Begin was born. When coddling their son, could his parents have dreamed that one day their newborn would be Prime Minister of the State of Israel? Not likely–his parents were confronted with fear of persecution and the perpetual threat of relocation facing Eastern European Jewry.
As a young boy Begin was drawn to Zionism, classical literature and oratorical skills. In his teens he was inspired by Zeev Jabotinsky and joined the Betar movement and later became its head.
After being jailed in a Siberian labor camp, he was fortuitously freed in 1941 and joined the Free Polish Army; his unit was sent to Palestine in 1943. Once there he left the Polish army for the Irgun, becoming its head later in that year. In Europe his family was murdered, which both haunted and inspired him for the rest of his life.