Thursday, February 27, 2014


Editor’s Note: This  is excerpted from Begin’s address on Israel’s independence day on  the Irgun’s  radio station.  His words are worth remembering in this time of unprecedented challenges to Israel’s right to exist.
Citizens of the Hebrew Homeland, Soldiers of Israel, Hebrew Youth, Sisters and Brothers in Zion! Today is truly a holiday, a Holy Day, and a new fruit is visible before our very eyes. The Hebrew Revolt of 1944-1948 has been blessed with success — the first Hebrew revolt since the Hasmonean insurrection that has ended in victory.  The State of Israel has arisen in bloody battle. The highway for the mass return to Zion has been cast up. The foundation has been laid — but only the foundation — for true independence.

One phase of the battle for freedom, for the return of the entire People of Israel to its homeland, for the restoration of the whole Land of Israel to its God-covenanted owners, has ended. But only one phase. We should recall that this event has occurred after 70 generations of dispersion and unending wandering of an unarmed people and after a period of almost total destruction of the Jew as Jew. Thus, although our suffering is not yet over, it is our right and our obligation to proffer thanks to the Rock of Israel and His Redeemer for all the miracles that have been done this day, as in those times. We therefore can say with full heart and soul on this first day of our liberation from the British occupier: Blessed is He who has sustained us and enabled us to have reached this time. The State of Israel has arisen. And it has risen “Only Thus”: through blood, through fire, with an outstretched hand and a mighty arm, with sufferings and with sacrifices.  It could not have been otherwise.
And yet, even before our state is able to establish its normal governing institutions, it is compelled to fight, or rather, to continue to fight satanic enemies and blood-thirsty mercenaries, on land, in the air and on the sea. In these circumstances, the warning sounded by the Philosopher-President Thomas Masaryk to the Czechoslovak nation when it attained its freedom after three hundred years of slavery has a special significance for us. In 1918, when Masaryk stepped out on to the Wilson railway station in Prague, he warned his cheering countrymen: “It is difficult to set up a state; it is even more difficult to keep it going.”
We are surrounded by enemies who long for our destruction.  Our one-day old state is set up in the midst of the flames of battle. And the very first pillar of our state must therefore be victory, total victory, in the war which is raging all over the country. For this victory, without which we shall have neither freedom nor life, we need arms; weapons of all sorts, in order to strike the enemies, in order to disperse the invaders, in order to free the entire length and breadth of the country from its would-be destroyers. But in addition to these arms, each and every one of us has need of another weapon, a spiritual weapon, the weapon of unflinching endurance in face of attacks from the air; in face of grievous casualties; in face of local disasters and temporary defeats; unflinching resistance to threats and cajolery.
But even after emerging victorious from this campaign — and victorious we shall be — we shall still have to exert superhuman efforts in order to remain independent, in order to free our country. First of all, it will be necessary to increase and strengthen the fighting arm of Israel, without which there can be no freedom and no survival for our Homeland. Our Jewish army should be, and must be, one of the best trained and equipped of the world’s military forces. In modern warfare, it is not quantity that counts but brainpower and spirit are the determining factors. All of our youth proved that they possess this spirit – those of the Hagana, the Lehi, the Irgun, youth that no other nation has merited. Indeed, no generation since Bar-Kochba and until the Bilu pioneers has seen such spirit.
As for brainpower, after 120 generations, the creativity of the Hebrew mind is one of the most developed and unlimited. Our military science will be built up on the Jewish mind and will be the world’s best. We will yet achieve strength for we possess the power of the brain. In order to free our country and maintain our state, we shall need a wise foreign policy. We must turn our declaration of independence into a reality.  Secondly, we must establish and maintain the principle of reciprocity in our relations with the nations of the world. There must be no self-denigration.
Of no less importance is our internal policy. The first pillar of this policy is the Return to Zion….Quickly, quickly! Our nation has no time! Bring in hundreds of thousands. If there will not be enough houses, we’ll find tents or even the skies, the blue skies of our land, as a roof.  We are now in the midst of a war for survival; and our tomorrow and theirs depend on the quickest concentration of our nation’s exiles. And within our Homeland, justice shall be the supreme ruler, the ruler over all rulers.  The Ministers and officials must be the servants of the nation and not their masters. “Righteousness, righteousness shall you pursue” will be the guiding principle in our relations amongst ourselves.
The Irgun Zvai Leumi is leaving the underground inside the boundaries of the Hebrew independent state.   In the State of Israel, we shall be soldiers and builders. And we shall respect its government, for it is our government. The State of Israel has arisen, but we must remember that our country is not yet liberated. The battle continues, and you see now that the words of your Irgun fighters were not vain words: it is Hebrew arms which decide the boundaries of the Hebrew State. So it is now in this battle; so it will be in the future. Our God-given country is a unity, an integral historical and geographical whole. 
Whoever does not recognize our natural right to our entire homeland, does not recognize our right to any part of it.  There can be no distinction between the nation-state and its homeland.  We will yet fly the flag of freedom, of peace, of progress. Our soldiers will unfurl that flag over the Tower of David and we will yet plow the fields of the Gilead. Citizens of the Hebrew State, soldiers of Israel, we are in the midst of battles.  Much blood will be spilled. Fortify yourselves. Strengthen your morale. There is no other way. We cannot buy peace from our enemies with appeasement. There is only one kind of ‘peace’ that can be bought — the peace of the graveyard, the peace of Treblinka.
Be brave of spirit and ready for more trials. We shall withstand them.  And you, brothers of the fighting family, do you remember how we started?  You were alone and persecuted, rejected, despised and numbered with transgressors.  But you fought on with deep faith and did not retreat. You were driven to the gallows but went forth with a song.   But for the time-being, let us think of the battle, for only the outcome of the battle will decide our fate and future. We shall go on our way into battle, soldiers of the Lord of Hosts, inspired by the spirit of our ancient heroes, from the conquerors of Canaan to the Rebels of Judah.
We shall be accompanied by the spirit of those who revived our nation, Zeev Benjamin Herzl, Max Nordau, Joseph Trumpeldor and the father of resurrected Hebrew heroism, Zeev Jabotinsky. We shall be accompanied by the spirit of David Raziel, greatest of the Hebrew commanders of our day; and by Dov Gruner, one of the greatest of Hebrew soldiers. And in this battle, we shall break the enemy and bring salvation to our people, tried in the furnace of persecution, thirsting only for freedom, for righteousness and for justice. God, Lord of Israel, protect your soldiers. Grant blessing to their sword that is renewing the covenant that was made between your chosen people and your chosen land. Arise O Lion of Judea for our people, for our land. On to battle. Forward to victory.
Thanks NG

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