Recently I obtained a classic speech which has not previously been published which
“Prime Minister Menachem Begin reported at the grave-site of his boss, Ze’ev Jabotinsky, Rosh Betar on the 100th Anniversary of the Birth of Jabotinsky.” Begin gave the speech at Mount Herzl in front of the grave of Ze’ev Jabotinsky on Har Herzl (Mount Herzl).
Ze’ev Jabotinsky was a Revisionist Zionist leader, author, orator, soldier, and founder of the Jewish Self-Defense Organization in Odessa. He also helped form the Jewish Legion of the British army in World War I.
“Upon completion of the centennial of your birth – and this time only – we have come to address some remarks at your graveside. We report to you, Rosh Betar, that Jerusalem, the city that has become bound together, the eternal capital of Israel and of the Land of Israel, shall not be subjected to any division and is our liberated and indivisible capital and so it shall remain from generation to generation.
The western part of the Land of Israel is entirely under our control and it shall not be partitioned anymore. No part of this land shall be given over to a foreign administration, to foreign sovereignty.
We believe that a day will come when the two parts of the Land of Israel shall establish, peacefully, in agreement and understanding a covenant of alliance, a free confederation, for the purpose of join cooperation, and then we shall see the fulfillment of the words:
From the abundance in our land
The Arab, the Christian and the Jew.
We defend the dignity of Jewish people wherever they may be, since that is the basis for safeguarding the existence and future of our nation. We shall remember until the very last day of our lives and shall bequeath to our children after us, that those who arose against us in this generation to annihilate us, did not carry out their evil designs until they had succeeded in debasing our condemned people and depriving them of their human dignity.
We guard the security of our nation as the pupil of our eyes. Many are those who wait to trap us. The path of tribulations has not yet come to an end. We shall, however, ensure our national security with all the means at our disposal, with the heroism of our children, for whom you sang from the depths of your loving and believing heart:
Do not say that there is no more within us
The blood of our father, the Maccabee,
For three drops from him
Have been mixed into my blood.
When the enemy shall break from ambush,
We shall rise and we shall fight
Long live the youth: love live the sword,
Long live the Maccabean blood.
We will continue to pursue peace and to act by virtue of our inalienable right, for its realization; for wars are abhorrent to us, and the vision of eternal peace, conceived by the Prophets of Israel, the Prophets of truth and justice, dwells in our hearts and appears before us always.
We undertake a continuous endeavor in the rejuvenation of the Hebrew language, which today we and our children use fluently. It is beautiful in content, and not merely great in its expression, as you have taught us –
“The most wonderful of all languages, the language of thousands of opposites, hard and strong as steel and at the same time soft and illuminating as gold; poor in words but rich in concepts; cruel in anger and living in ridicule as well as dainty in a mother’s song at a time of comfort and conciliation. It is a language whose voice often echoes like that of stones falling steeply from the mountain and often as the rumblings of grass in a spring morning. An unwieldy language, with bearlike fingernails and widespread wings of birds in flight. The language of the ten commandments, and the song of Moses on the day of his death; the language of censure and the language of the Song of Songs; the language of David’s lament and Isaiah’s song of comfort; the language forgotten and unforgotten, already buried and yet living eternally.”
We will continue to act for the promotion of social justice in the lives of our people so that there be light for Jew and Gentile together. The vision of justice, as we received it from you, Adoni Rosh Betar, is that poverty shall vanish from the face of the earth.
The return to Zion of most of the Jews from the West, the East, the North and the South is our aspiration, and it shall continue to serve as a beacon of light for our guidance.
We observe the ancient traditions of our people, the faith in the G-d of our fathers, since these are the sources of Israel’s eternal existence.
One more message from our lips, Adoni Rosh Betar:
In those difficult days we saw you in your pain and suffering. We heard you calling our people, who did not wish to heed: Save yourselves, liquidate the Diaspora before the Diaspora liquidates you. In those days, on the threshold of those awful days, you told us, your pupils, your children: A day will come when our people will call upon you to conduct their affairs, to take responsibility for their future.
That day has come. To them, to your pupils, our nation in its homeland has again given the trust to bear the responsibility for assuring its liberty, its security, its peace, dignity, welfare and future, in the Land of Israel restored.
Blessed are the pupils, Adoni Rosh Betar, for whom a teacher like you arose and who continues to live in their hearts. Blessed be the teacher, whose pupils carry aloft his flag, believe in his vision and diligently fulfill his tenets.”
(As translated and published with permission of Begin’s former Chief of Staff
Ronn Torossian is an entrepreneur, activist and philanthropist who formerly served as North American President of Betar, the movement of Ze’ev Jabotinsky.