Reviewed by Haviv Bettig Gur, Times of Israel (Public Affairs, New York, $17.99), under the title: Is Israel past the age of heroic leaders?
“It was 1978. The Litani operation in March saw Israeli troops push into south Lebanon to disrupt Palestinian terror groups in the region. In April, Israel won the Eurovision song contest for the first time with Izhar Cohen’s “A-Ba-Ni-Bi.” And in September, prime minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian president Anwar Sadat signed the first agreement on the road to peace between Israelis and Arabs, the Camp David Accords.”
“The formal peace treaty, signed the following year, would prove unexpectedly resilient, surviving Sadat’s assassination in 1981, multiple wars in Lebanon and Gaza, a Muslim Brotherhood government in Cairo in 2012, and broad Arab and Muslim anger at Egypt’s acceptance of Israel over the years. Through it all, Israel’s peace with the most populous Arab state — and the Arab world’s largest army — has held firm.”
“But back in Jerusalem that September, Begin faced condemnation from his closest allies on the Israeli right, who fumed at the surrender of conquered lands and the dismantling of settlements in the Sinai peninsula — and no less over the accord’s rhetorical nod toward recognizing Palestinian rights.”
“In the Knesset shortly after the announcement of the accords in the White House, Likud lawmaker Moshe Shamir slammed the agreement in terms calculated to sting for the proudly Jewish Begin. Dismantling the Sinai settlements, he railed, was a “blow to the Jew who has stood up straight and been prepared to fight back…. I have the impression that by making this decision this government has returned to a state of receiving the charity of others, of begging for handouts, of bowing one’s back to those who are one’s benefactors.” (more…)