• Issue: February 1993
  • Designer: A. Vanooijen
  • Stamp size: 30.8 x 30.8 mm
  • Plate no.: 176
  • Sheet of 15 stamps Tabs: 5
  • Printers: E. Lewin-Epstein Ltd.
  • Method of printing: Offset

Menahem Begin, the sixth Prime Minister of Israel, one of the greatest leaders of the Jewish people in the period of the Holocaust and the Rebirth of the State of Israel, will be especially remembered as the man who signed the first Peace Treaty between Israel and an Arab State. On 26th March 1979 his initiatives and political endeavours reached their peak, when on the lawns of the White House in Washington he and Anwar Sadat, President of Egypt, signed the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty, thus opening a new page in the history of the Middle East.

Menahem Begin devoted all his life to the freedom and independence of the Jewish people in its historic homeland, its safety and well-being. He was totally devoted to, and acted in the spirit of his master and teacher, Zeev Jabotinsky.

Begin was born on 16th August, 1913, in Brisk, Lithuania. He joined the Betar movement at the age of 16, working for the self-defence of the Jews of Poland and their emigration to the Land of Israel. In March 1939 he was appointed head of Betar in Poland, and two months later married Aliza Arnold.

Upon the Nazi invasion of Poland, the Begin couple reached Vilna as refugees and there Menahem Begin was arrested by the Soviets. In 1941 he was sent to a concentration camp in Siberia. He was released in order to join the Polish Army formed in the USSR, with which he arrived in Eretz Israel in May 1942. At the end of 1943 Begin was appointed the commander of the Etzel (Underground National Military Organization), declared and started the revolt against British rule on February 1sf 1944, and directed some 300 actions carried out by the Etzel before the establishment of the State - actions which played a major role in ousting the British from Eretz Israel.

Begin put severe constraints on the way the Etzel fought. His main concern was for the lives of the fighters and that the struggle be directed against the British institutions and military. When members of the Irgun were persecuted by the Hagana, Begin prohibited his men from reacting thereby preventing a civil war. On the establishment of the State, he brought the Etzel into the fold of the Israel Defence Forces. He was on the deck of the weapons ship, the "Altalena", when it was bombarded from the shore, and once again prevented civil war by ordering his men not to return fire.

With the establishment of the State, Menahem Begin came out from the Underground and founded a new political party - the Herut (Freedom) Movement. From then on his activities and contribution to the democratic and parliamentary life of the State were both outstanding and decisive. In 1965 he united Herut and the Liberals into the Gahal party and on 1sf June 1967, on the eve of the Six-Day War, was appointed Minister without Portfolio in the National United Government. It was he, together with the late Yigal Alon, who was behind the Government's decision to liberate the Old City of Jerusalem. ln August 1970, on his demand that the Government reject the American initiative which included a commitment by Israel to retreat from Judea and Samaria and Gaza, Gahal left the Government.

On 17th May 1977 there was a major political changeover in Israel. For the first time a new group of parties, with the Likud at its centre, came into power. Begin was elected as Prime Minister and immediately began devoting himself to furthering peace with Egypt, though he was subject to personal criticism by some members of his party for the price he was prepared to pay: returning the whole of the Sinai Peninsula to the Egyptians. For his role in achieving the historic Peace Agreement he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1978.

During Begin's government, Israeli Administrative jurisdiction was extended to include the Golan Heights; the Iraqi Nuclear Plant being built in Baghdad was bombed and destroyed; Israeli settlement in Judea, Samaria, the Gaza Strip, on the Golan Heights and in the Galilee was accelerated; building new towns in the north and the south was stepped up and "Project Renewal", a national programme to renovate slum areas was initiated.

With the build-up of terrorist organisations in Southern Lebanon, and the threat which they posed to residents of the Galilee, the Government, under Begin's leadership, decided to conduct the "Operation for Peace in the Galilee", which began on 5th June, 1982. In the same year (13th November 1982), Aliza Begin passed away in Jerusalem. On 15th September 1983 Menahem Begin resigned from the premiership and withdrew completely from political life.

Menahem Begin passed away on 9th March 1992 (4th Adar B. 5752) in Tel Aviv. Tens of thousands of devoted admirers participated in his funeral on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. In accordance with his will, he was buried beside the martyrs, Moshe Barazani, a member of Lehi (the Fighters for the Freedom of Israel) Group, and Meir Feinstein, a member of the Etzel.

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Menahem Begin