Your email is not valid
Recipient's email is not valid
Submit Close

Your email has been sent.

Click here to send another


Menachem Begin’s 99th Birthday

Among his legacies that resonate: the Osirak attack

Print Email
(Carter and Begin, BRL)

Former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin would have turned 99 years old today. He leaves an extremely complex legacy between his role in the Irgun, which targeted the British during the Mandate era, to his place as a peacemaker (and Nobel Laureate) following the Camp David Accords. He was a key participant in the famous Altalena Affair and oversaw the ill-fated invasion of Lebanon in 1982.

However, one specific part of his legacy stands out today for its past-as-prologue familiarity: Begin’s role in the bombing of the Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirak in 1981, which initially earned Israel universal condemnation. As Seth Lipsky wrote for Tablet:

Certainly there was plenty of concern about what Iraq was up to, but the long public debate, the hand-wringing, the threats, the counter-threats, the journalistic chorus about what a terrible thing a pre-emptive attack would be, how dangerous, none of this happened. One day Iraq had a nuclear reactor. The next day it didn’t. The attack was met with the usual outrage, but then a funny thing happened, and the tide began to turn in Israel’s favor, in part because Menachem Begin had no apologies.

Earlier this summer, Niv Ellis also wrote a fantastic family history piece about how his grandfather collaborated with Begin to blow up the King David Hotel.

Related: What Would Begin Do? [Tablet Magazine]
Blowing Up The King David Hotel [Tablet Magazine]

Print Email

Your comment may be no longer than 2,000 characters, approximately 400 words. HTML tags are not permitted, nor are more than two URLs per comment. We reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.

Menachem Begin’s 99th Birthday

Among his legacies that resonate: the Osirak attack

More on Tablet:

How To Make Middle Eastern Stuffed Vegetables

By Joan Nathan — Video: Filled with warm rice and unexpected spices, they’re perfect for a cool autumn night—as a side dish or vegetarian entree