Menachem Begin

We sometimes learn more about world leaders from those who would normally be their allies than from their natural enemies. Such is the case with Begin.

Begin was leader of the infamous Irgun terrorist organization that committed unspeakable atrocities throughout Palestine in the 1940s. It was Begin's organization that dynamited the King David Hotel in Jerusalem in 1946, killing nearly 100 people. Two years later, Begin's Irgun collaborated with Yitzhak Shamir's Stern Gang in the massacre of 20 civilians in the Arab village of Dier Yassin.

Israel's first president, Chaim Weizmann, detested Begin for his terrorist activities, as did Israel's first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, who called Begin's terrorists "maniacs and criminals."

One of Begin's legacies will be identical to that of his mortal enemy, Yasser Arafat; that criminal activities committed on behalf of a cause make criminals out of individuals, and criminalize their causes.

MICHAEL A. SCOTT

Glendora

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