Menachem Begin

Menachem Begin

Menachem Begin, the son of Jewish parents, was born in Russia in 1913. During the First World War Begin was forced to flee with his family to escape from the German Army.

Begin, a staunch Zionist, joined the Betar youth movement and in 1931 became head of the organization. When Poland was invaded by Germany in 1939 Begin fled to Lithuania. He was captured by the Red Army and sent to Siberia. After the invasion of the German Army in 1941 Begin was released.

In 1942 Begin moved to Palestine where he eventually became Commander-in-Chief of the Irgun Zvai Leumi resistance movement. Over the next five years he organized over 200 acts of terrorism including the destruction of the central British administrative offices in the King David Hotel. The explosion killed ninety-one people.

The Jewish state of Israel was established on 14th May 1948 when the British mandate over Palestine came to an end. Begin founded the right-wing Herut Freedom Movement and was elected to the Knesset.

In 1973 the Herut Party joined forces with two other parties to form the Likud Front. Begin became leader of this new nationalist party and following the 1977 elections became Israel's new prime minister.

In September 1978, with the support of Jimmy Carter, the president of the United States, Begin and Anwar Sadat of Egypt signed a peace treaty between the two countries. As a result both men shared the Nobel Peace Prize.

In 1981 Begin ordered the bombing of the Osirak Nuclear Reactor in Iraq. Although criticised for this action, Begin argued that he had succeeded in hampering Iraq's attempt to acquire nuclear weapons.

Menachem Begin resigned from office in 1983. He retired from public life and lived in Jerusalem until his death on 9th March, 1992.