Menachem Begin

1913- 1992

Israeli Politician





Born in Brest Litovsk, Russia, in 1913, Menachem Begin started his education at Warsaw University Law School. He joined Betar, the Revisionist Jewish youth movement in 1929. After the fall of Poland, Begin was incarcerated by the Russians. In 1942, he was released and went to Palestine in the uniform of a Polish soldier.

In 1944, Begin became commander of the Irgun. This underground organization fought the British, and was often criticized for its extremist tactics. One of their most publicized actions was blowing up the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, which was serving as a British military headquarters. After the Declaration of Independence, Begin and his group submitted to the authority of the new state and agreed to disband their organization.

Begin was elected to the first Knesset as the leader of the Herut Party. He remained in the opposition until 1967, when his party joined a unity government. In 1969, Herut resigned from the government over a disagreement on negotiating platforms.

In 1976, the Likud, formed from the Herut and Liberal parties, was able to form a coalition government, and Menachem Begin became Prime Minister. Begin reacted positively to the historic visit of Egypt's President Anwar el-Sadat to Jerusalem, and successfully negotiated the Camp David Accords, under which Israel relinquished the Sinai in return for full peace with Egypt. Together with Sadat, he received the Nobel Peace Prize. He resigned in 1982 after Israel's incursion into Lebanon.