Jerusalem is once again hosting חמשושלים, that period when museums go late Thursday nights and restaurants discount themselves for the weekend.We chose to visit the Menachem Begin Heritage Center. I never felt any specific or strong feelings towards Menachem Begin – the sixth prime minister of Israel and former Beitar movement head and Irgun strategizer. The museum always looked so fancy on the outside so we decided, why not?
It wasn’t until the end of the tour that I realized the symbolism of my Begin education tonight, one of the nights covering the Annapolis ridiculousness going on. If Sharon were dead, he’d be rolling in his grave. They don’t make leaders like that anymore.
Menachem Begin pushed through war so he could get to peace. And that wasn’t consistent; it went back and forth, but at least it went. He did seem to think about what he was doing and who it would help or hurt; in the very least, he had emotions along with brains.
Ehud Olmert puts that to shame. In terms of mistakes and misfits, at least Begin knew when to step down. Begin exuded personality; he laid his beliefs on the table and stood firm, while Olmert is a blank stare of a man. Begin was a fighter for social justice, yet in the present leadership students haven’t been to school since last June.
Leaders today don’t have the kind of experience that creates the potential for… nostalgia. The big guns are dead or – almost dead. Sadat and Begin – these guys had balls. Where are today’s guts? Do good leaders only spring from tragedy?
I’ve purposely chosen to actively ignore the Annapolis goings-on. It’s the first time that I’ve been apathetic towards a ‘chance’. I’m another hard-working exhausted Israeli, tired of vomiting up cliches. I’m slowly paying my due; I made aliyah and live my life here, working hard to stay committed. How is the government completing their end of the bargain?
As a museum, the Begin Center wasn’t all that impressive, but I’m glad I went. I feel a renewed sense of spirit; not necessarily in the backwards American-Zionism way, but just as an Israeli citizen who knows that inspiring leaders have existed in the past and believes that someday – hopefully before more tragedy is done – they will rise again.