Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Recalling Begin In Connection With Israel's Political Culture

From an op-ed by Yoel Marcus:-

...One of the characteristics of Israeli politics today is that the nation's leaders hate or love their colleagues less. They're more focused on public opinion polls and back-room deals than political relationships.

Looking back, you see that political bonds were deeply rooted in love-hate relationships, both emotional and ideological. Until the Six-Day War, David Ben-Gurion hated Menachem Begin. He never mentioned his name in the Knesset, referring to him as "the man sitting to the right of MK Bader." Their hatred stemmed from a rift over Ze'ev Jabotinsky, the Revisionist Zionist leader. Ben-Gurion refused to reinter his remains in Israel, as Jabotinsky had requested in his will. His remains were moved only when Levi Eshkol became prime minister, when the admiration between Eshkol and Ben-Gurion turned into hostility.

Paula Ben-Gurion actually liked Begin. When he would meet her, he would kiss her hand with Polish grace. She did not miss an opportunity to irritate her husband by praising Begin's gentlemanliness. The hatred between Begin and Ben-Gurion became friendship when Begin proposed making Ben-Gurion prime minister again on the eve of the Six-Day War. But Eshkol and Golda Meir adamantly opposed the move - the hatred for the founder of the state was absolute among his followers, of all people.

Golda, who was no beauty, was the most admired woman in her party. Though she was called the only man in the government, the truth is that she was very feminine. She loved like a woman and hated like a woman. When the national unity government was formed in 1967, she asked Begin not to include "those neofascists Dayan and Peres" in the cabinet. Begin replied that without them he would not join the government himself, and Golda retreated...

...The relations between Allon and Dayan were relations of jealousy and mutual contempt. The relationship between Shimon Peres and Dayan, both of whom were Ben-Gurion's favorite pair, cooled over time. When Dayan suddenly joined Begin's government as foreign minister, Peres considered it a betrayal.

In the betrayal department, Dayan surpassed Peres both in the political realm and in his relations with women. Dayan paved his way to Begin by saying, "I'm closer to Begin than to Ya'ari." With that he both rebuffed the left and won over Begin. He succeeded more so than attorney Shmuel Tamir, who tried to topple Begin with a putsch. He never dreamed that the day would come when Begin would be prime minister.

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