Talk:Menachem Begin

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Why not accept the fact that "Irgun" was a terrorist organization?[edit]

The facts are there but still it is not accepted to put in the introduction that Irgun was a terrorist organization? Why? If murdering british soldiers and a swedish diplomat (Count Folke Bernadotte) isn't terrorism then what is it? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Yaya 35 (talkcontribs) 19:46, 29 May 2011 (UTC)

There does seem to be a slant whereby Begin's and Irgun's self-serving claims about the warnings are accepted when more reliable sources make it clear that the warnings were not delivered to the authorities in time for most victims to have escaped.--Peter cohen (talk) 23:02, 29 May 2011 (UTC)
What warnings? The incident about the King David Hotel is enough to make the Stern Gang look like a bunch of hippies. It has officialy been said that the staff of that hotel rushed to close down windows, and they are the ones who failed to reduce the number of casualties. Just how is that different to a good old fashioned victim-blamming? I am also wondering how he could lose political prestige over invading Lebanon, when the same type of action seems to boost the image of other Israeli PMs that are doing just that. --Stat-ist-ikk (talk) 09:02, 20 September 2013 (UTC)

Warning or not, placing bombs is a terrorist action, point. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:29, 30 May 2011 (UTC)

If this "the kidnapping and hanging of two British sergeants" is not terrorism then please tell me what it is!! — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:51, 30 May 2011 (UTC)

Personally, I agree with you that Begin and the Irgun were terrorists. HoweverWikipedia:TERRORIST says that we should be careful of the use of such terminology. It needs to be attributed to particular WP:Reliable sources. Who is or is not a terrorist is in the eye of the beholder. As the government of South Africa changed, then what that state regarded as terrorist changed. Indeed if you look at Israeli official views of the Irgun, then the original left-leaning leadership proscribed Irgun as a terrorist group while the current prime minister, who is in the political tradition of Begin, praises them as freedom fighters. That is why we need to include who calls them terrorist rather than just state it as an objective title. Respected academic sources are the best to use. I think some can be found in the articles on the Irgun and the King David bombing.--Peter cohen (talk) 21:16, 30 May 2011 (UTC)
I do not agree that: "Who is or is not a terrorist is in the eye of the beholder". Terrorism is a simple concept - the use of terror to achieve political goals. The test does not include any consideration of whether the goal is desired by the commentator or not. Bin Laden was a terrorist. Menachem Begin was a terrorist. Nelson Mandela was a terrorist. They may or may not also be "freedom fighters" or "nutcases". The motivation for the terrorists actions is irrelevant. Similarly American torture of political prisoners remains the torture of political prisoners, and does not become something else just because it may, or may not, be justifiable. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:10, 9 December 2011 (UTC)
The solution is surely simple. Since he was head of Irgun, which was operating at the time against the British forces in Palestine, why not just put in a sentence like: 'was as head of Irgun viewed as a terrorist by MI5 at the time'. The article on the King David Hotel bombing describes Irgun in such terms, and is sourced, and if it will do there then it would do here. Also, describing him in such terms provides counter-balance with the Yasser Arafat article, where Arafat is described in the introduction as 'reviled by many Israelis who viewed him as a terrorist', despite the fact that like Begin, Arafat too won the Nobel Peace Prize. Both were viewed as terrorists by some at some time. So in the interests of inter-article consistency I am going to add such a statement, taking the source from the King David Hotel bombing article. I hope no-one can logically object to that.1812ahill (talk) 12:16, 29 February 2012 (UTC)
To begin with, the sources have to be about Begin himself, not about the Irgun in general. Next, the fact that the British considered him to be a terrorist for 3 or 4 years is hardly worthy of mention in the lede, much less its first paragraph. Begin had a very long career, filled with all sorts of adventures and incidents; please review WP:UNDUE. Details belong in the article's body. Jayjg (talk) 17:46, 29 February 2012 (UTC)
With the logic of your 1st point you can then say that if I can't find a source stating specifically that Osama Bin Laden is a terrorist, despite being the head of Al Quaida, for which I do have a source stating it as a terrorist organisation, and that he is the head of it, then I can't call Bin Laden a terrorist. To me that sounds dangerously like 'Hitler is not responsible for the murder of 6 million jews, because he never personally killed anyone and we haven't got his signature on any documents which ordered their deaths'. I profoundly disagree with you. Begin was head of Irgun. Irgun was considered a terrorist organisation by the law enforcement organisation in Palestine at the time and place that Irgun was active, and Begin was also present at that time and place as its leader, dishing out the orders. He was therefore a terrorist as far as the law enforcement agency in question was concerned. That is surely an acceptable statement. As for the rest of your points, I see what you are saying, but the lede is chronological, so it would have to go in the 1st paragraph, and the King David Hotel bombing is fundamental to the founding events of Israel and his involvement in Irgun is a fundamental part of both that and his life. Would he have had the later career he had without his leadership of Irgun? I doubt it. Just look at the life stories of most of the rest of the Iraeli leadership.
Finally is it surprising that we might not be able to find a specific 'reliable' source stating that Begin was once a terrorist. Doh, such things are not said in 'respectable' sources, i.e. the invariably pro Israeli western press or publishing houses in general, and certainly not about Nobel Peace Prize winning heads of states. Do Arabic sources count as verifiable and reliable? Nope, I didn't think so either. 1812ahill (talk) 01:27, 1 March 2012 (UTC)
What Jayjg wrote is quite reasonable and accords with WP policies; to discuss Begin's career as a terrorist, you need reliable sources which do the same thing. As a start, you could try a Google Books search (which would turn up results such as The Routledge Handbook of Terrorism Research). You'll also have to try to pull off the trick of writing neutrally, though.     ←   ZScarpia   03:49, 1 March 2012 (UTC) (11:47, 1 March 2012 (UTC): struck out remark which has caused offence)
I agree with what you are saying, however, surely it should in some way be reflected in the article that 'some' people (forget about MI5 in 1946), namely (I can't cite a reference for the following statement yet) a very large proportion of the 1+ billion Muslims in the world would consider the actions of Begin as head of Irgun during the mandate times to have been those of a terrorist? Until now, the only incidence of the word 'terrorist' in the entire article is when it is used in the sense of terrorism against Israel. This does not reflect a balanced view. So, by stating in the introduction that 'some' consider him a terrorist and providing a source (from an article by a PhD - who presumably would not write such things lightly) I am only abiding by one of Wikipedias 'prime directives', namely NPOV.1812ahill (talk) 03:54, 1 March 2012 (UTC)
Btw, if I had uttered your last statement I would no doubt have been told WP:NPA by Jayjg.1812ahill (talk) 04:04, 1 March 2012 (UTC)
I think it would be helpful if you reviewed WP:V. Wikipedia does not care about the alleged opinions of millions or billions of unnamed individuals; rather, it cares only about the views of reliable sources. Also, I think you should review WP:TERRORIST. Jayjg (talk) 22:37, 1 March 2012 (UTC)
I love Wikipedia dearly, and this whole episode has saddened me deeply. You know what got me onto this whole sorry bandwaggon in the 1st place? It was seeing the smug face of 'Sara Agassi' (sic) in interview with Jeremy Paxman. She was the Irgun member who scouted out the King David Hotel to determine where best to plant the bombs to bring down the building. There she was after all these years, in interview, expressing not a jot of remorse, or even regret for playing the part she did in killing the very people who fought and died to help save her 'chosen' people during WW2 and without whom the nation of Israel would never have existed in the 1st place. Instead, there was a certain arrogant pride and self-confidence about her actions. So, I thought, who is this woman, who in any other western civilised democracy would have been shunned, or at least remained very quiet lest she be prosecuted for her actions? I couldn't find anything about her under that name in Google, (I have since found out that she is known as 'Sarah Agassi' and is feted in Israeli as a bit of a heroine) but, knowing she was an Irgun member I started reading a bit about said organisation, and that is when I came across the name of Menachem Begin.
I have since been perplexed to find that the word 'terrorist' and 'Menachim Begin' appear to be mutually exclusive, despite framing my sourced contribution in mild terms, and then even milder terms, but alas, to no avail. I could even frame it milder: 'has been considered by some to have been in his early years a terrorist'. But I bet that wouldn't do either, sourced or otherwise. Instead I have run into disingenuous arguments that cite wikipedia policy in an attempt to whitewash history and disassociate anything and anyone to do with Israel from the word 'terrorist'. ZScarpia, a 217 page document about terrorism doesn't address the issue I'm talking about. Jayjg, WP:TERRORIST says next to nothing of relevance, and your citing WP:V and WP:VS if applied in the sense you are using it would lead to the collapse of the entire Wikipedia project. WP:UNDUE I don't buy either for reasons I've stated above. If I were to follow your logic I could nominate the article on for instance Herschel Grynszpan for AfD on the basis of WP:ONEEVENT. So, finally in what way is Amy Zalman, PhD not acceptable as a source stating that Begin was involved in terrorism. Is your verifiability criteria a written confession from Begin that he was a terrorist or something similar? I await your reply(ies) with interest.1812ahill (talk) 06:41, 2 March 2012 (UTC)
On second thoughts, forget it, I should know better than to get involved in contentious issues like terrorism and for whom the word is and isn't applicable. I'll bow out of this and go back to editing typos etc.1812ahill (talk) 10:33, 2 March 2012 (UTC)
1812ahill, I'm not against the article treating Begin's career as a terrorist, it's just that I think that if it's going to be done, it should be done well. There's not a lot of point of shoehorning the word terrorist into the article just for the sake of it being there. Something I'd like to see avoided because I think it would be tedious is the mere addition of lists of organisations, authors and books which take the view that Begin was a terrorist. Why they view him as a terrorist is the important thing. Also, the treatment should be neutral. For example, it should mention Begin and his supporters' defence, which was, I think, along the lines that their's was a just form of terrorism, freedom fighting, that they didn't target civilians (an untrue claim) and that, anyway, the British were the real terrorists because they were interning refugees in camps in Cyprus and not allowing unrestricted immigration. Any treatment should also be encyclopaedic in style. If you look, you'll see that you're really spoiled for choice for good sources. I'll help if you like. At the moment, the article either doesn't mention, or skims over, things that Begin is criticised for, such as the conduct of the Lebanon war (which was about more than the destruction of PLO camps, or pushing the PLO farther north, as the article - which, incidentally, fails to mention the role that the IDF played at Sabra and Shatila and, consequently, why Israel was condemned - currently states), policies regarding the occupied territories, ties with the Shah or Iran and ties with South Africa. Perhaps, treatments of those topics should be expanded or added in. For what it's worth, my opinion is that acts that the Irgun carried out, such as bombing market places, throwing bombs into civilian crowds and sending letter bombs (including, it's alleged, one to Konrad Adenauer in 1952), and things they planned to carry out, such as the poisoning of reservoirs, would be seen as terrorism by any reasonable and unbiased person. Perhaps, terrorism in a good cause, depending on your point of view, but still, in essence, very much what people tend to be talking about when they use the word.     ←   ZScarpia   02:49, 4 March 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for the helpful reply! I think though that I should stick by my last post. After looking at e.g. your user talk page I see that you know way more than I do about this topic, particularly wrt the KDH bombings and no doubt have access to far better sources than I could get hold of. I see that user:Dlv999 (posting below) has some very useful source listed. Perhaps you can work on it with him/her - I gather from his/her user page that this is an area of particular interest to him/her too. Also, apologies about the WP:NPA post, I think I misunderstood what you meant.1812ahill (talk) 03:25, 7 March 2012 (UTC)
As far as Sarah Agassi goes, the 2010 ynet article, "Then I saw a giant cloud – like in Hiroshima", explains her attitude: she believes the story that the Haganah fed the Irgun, that John Shaw ordered that no evacuation be carried out at the King David Hotel (saying, the British don't take orders from the Jews, the British give orders to the Jews), making the British responsible for the deaths. At the bottom of the article, it explains why she felt a bit betrayed by Begin.     ←   ZScarpia   02:26, 4 March 2012 (UTC) (edited 18:02, 4 March 2012 (UTC))
  1. "Under Begin's command, the underground terrorist group Irgun carried out numerous acts of violence. In 1946 Irgun blew up the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, killing 91 people. In 1948 it took part in the massacre of Arabs in the town of Deir Yassin - an incident that accelerated the Arab exodus from Palestine on the eve of the founding of Israel." Menachem Begin profile, BBC (April 1998)
  2. "Irgun Zvai Leumi (IZI) 'National military organisation'. The IZI was a terrorist group active between 1937 and 1948, when they joined the Israel Defence Forces. It was led by Manachem Begin after ther death of its founder, David Raziel. It was, inter alia, responsible for blowing up the King David Hotel in 1946 (which housed the British military inteligence headquarters; 91 were killed, 45 injued) and the massacre of more than 200 Arabs in the villiage of Dier Yassin in 1948." pg 648 ; "Terrorists like Manachem Begin have ended up as winners of the Nobel Prize for Peace." pg 72. Alex P. Schmid (2011) The Routledge Handbook of Terrorism Research: Research, Theories and Concepts [1]
  3. "The extremists, known as the Irgun Zvai Leumi, had formed in the 1930s to protect the Yishuv, or Jewish community in Palestine, from their Arab neighbours, but were now conducting terrorist attacks against the continued British occupation....By the end of the war, the estremists had broken into two camps: The Irgun headed by Manachem Begin....." pg 36 David C. Rapoport (2006) Terrorism: The second or anti-colonial wave [2]
  4. "an unrepentant terrorist who won the Nobel Peace Prize, then launched another war." Silver, Eric (1984) Begin, the Haunted Prophet. quoted from NYT book review [3] and in The Nobel Peace Prize and the Laureates: An Illustrated Biographical History, 1901-2001 [4]
  5. "The conservative Israeli government of Manachem Begin, once a terrorist himself......" Irwin Abrams (2001) The Nobel Peace Prize and the Laureates: An Illustrated Biographical History, 1901-2001 [5].
  6. "Of course, Menachem Begin, who headed the Irgun and later became prime minister, was one of the most prominent Jewish terrorists in the years before Israeli independence. When speaking of Begin, Prime Minister Levi Eshkol often referred to him simply as "the terrorist".12"... "It was Jewish terrorists from the infamous Irgun, a militant Zionist group, who in late 1937 introduced into Palestine the now-familiar practice of placing bombs in buses and large crowds. Benny Morris speculates that "the Arabs may well have learned the value of terrorist bombings from the Jews.16" pg 102 John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, at 102 (Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2007). - NB this is actually the current citation for the lead.
  7. "...together with a number of other prominent Jewish intelectuals, including Hannah Arendt and Sindey Hook, Einstein signed an open letter calling attention to what the group considered among "the most disturbing political phenomena of our times.."...Wishing to dispel the impression of American support for the party in the upcoming Israeli elections, the signatories protested the visit the visit to the United States of the party's leader, Menachem Begin, head of "the former Irgun Zvai Leumi, a terrorist, right-wing, chauvainist organisation in Palestine." Among other actions, the Irgun had perpetrated an atrocity....." pg 350 - David E. Rowe, Robert Schulmann (2007) Einstein on Politics: His Private Thoughts and Public Stands on Nationalism, Zionism, War, Peace, and the Bomb Dlv999 (talk) 18:29, 3 March 2012 (UTC)

If fighting against an oppressive British imperialist regime is considered terrorism, then Wikipedia should also label George Washington and the American Revolutionaries terrorists. Unless Wikipedia has a bias against Jews. But that cannot be the case because Wikipedia is a neutral liberal encyclopedia and would never be so discriminatory, would it? — Preceding unsigned comment added by SNwsbnj (talkcontribs) 19:28, 4 October 2012 (UTC)

History is always written by the victors. If a Washington type popped up in america today he'd be called a terrorist. It's just like in Israel, where people forget that if it hadnt been for the Brits, their country might still be part of the Ottoman Empire, and certainly would never have existed in the 1st place. Why does no-one remember the Balfour Declaration. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:03, 9 October 2013 (UTC)

Israel and the United States of America only exist because of "British imperialism". British colonists were deliberately planted in North America, just as Jews were planted in Palestine by the UK. By the way, Washington was not a terrorist, though Begin unquestionably was. ( (talk) 16:01, 3 January 2014 (UTC))

Guerrilla warfare[edit]

Plotspoiler and Hayes Dolce:

Definition of guerrilla warfare by Walter Laqueur:
"The essence of guerrilla warfare is to establish foci, or liberated areas, in the countryside and to set up small military units which will gradually grow in strength, number and equipment—from squads to companies and regiments, eventually to divisions and armies, as in Yugoslavia and China during the Second World War—in order to fight battles against government troops. In the liberated areas, the guerrillas establish their own institutions, conduct propaganda and engage in other open political activities. None of this applies to terrorists, whose base of operations is in the cities, and who have to operate clandestinely in small units. Any major concentration would immediately expose them to retaliation by the government. The terrorists may be part of a political movement that engages in propaganda and other political activities (such as the IRA and the Basque ETA), but there is a strict division of labor between the legal and the military arms of the movement."

That definition of guerrilla warfare does not match the methods used by the Irgun. If you want to describe those methods as such, at least find a decent reliable source for it; note, though, that even if you manage to do that, you will then have to clear the neutrality hurdle as well.

(Also see: Online Britannica article on Guerrilla Warfare)

    ←   ZScarpia   15:52, 31 May 2013 (UTC)

Unlike the Boers or the (original) IRA, the Irgun were not fighting a guerrilla war by any definition. They were simply terrorists targeting civilians. ( (talk) 16:08, 3 January 2014 (UTC))
Begin was a terrorist like Y. Shamir and ordered the deadly bomb plot on sitting German chancellor Adenauer. This is well-known except it will never appear in wikipedia for obvious reasons (talk) 12:53, 25 July 2014 (UTC)
Details of the attempt on Adenauer's life have been part of the article for a long time.     ←   ZScarpia   10:20, 3 August 2014 (UTC)


Gershom Gorenberg - "Unmaking of Israel" (2011). Chapter II 'Remember the Altalena':

"Besides Jabotinsky, the formative influence on Begin and his comrades was the Polish radical right, and more widely the European far right, with its belief in the nation as ultimate value, its trust in iron will over pragmatism, and its equal willingness to take power by the vote or the gun."

    ←   ZScarpia   21:27, 11 November 2013 (UTC)

Improving the "Depictions in Film and Fiction" section[edit]

Concerning this part:

"Chris Claremont, longtime writer of the X-Men comic book, has said that Begin reminds him of the character Magneto.[53]"

Is there a way to hyperlink directly to the X-Men comic book character? If you're not familiar with the context, it's a bit tricky to redirect yourself to the relevant information. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:48, 3 August 2014 (UTC)