Prime Minister Begin's "Jerusalem-Response" to President Obama

Jerusalem Cloakroom #225, July 24, 2009

Ambassador (ret.) Yehuda Avner, who served under five Prime Ministers, writes in his forthcoming book (summer 2010), The Prime Ministers – An Intimate Portrait of Leaders of Israel:

 

"At the very end of [Prime Minister Begin's] successful Camp David talks with Jimmy Carter and Anwar Sadat in 1978, literally minutes before the signing ceremony, the American president had approached [Begin] with "Just one final formal item." Sadat, said the president, was asking that Begin put his signature to a simple letter committing him to place Jerusalem on the negotiating table of the final peace accord.

"I refused to accept the letter, let alone sign it," rumbled Begin. "'If I forgot thee O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its cunning,' said [Begin] to the president of the United States of America, 'and may my tongue cleave to my mouth.'"

 

"Admonishment of the British foreign secretary, [Lord Carrington], telling him in almost so many words to mind his own business, and… saying [Carrington] should open his Bible 'and read the First Book of Kings, chapter two, verse eleven, where you will find that King David moved his capital from Hebron, where he had reigned for seven years, to Jerusalem where he ruled for another thirty-three years, and this at a time [3,000 years ago] when the civilized world had never heard of London.'”

 

"[Addressing US Jewish leaders]: 'Jerusalem is an epic. It is the wellspring of a civilization. Without Jerusalem's civilization the spiritual history of the world would be stagnant. To us Jerusalem is family. Has anyone ever heard of a daughter or a son of a Saladin ever fasting each year in memory of ancient Jerusalem's anguish? Not a one! Has anybody ever heard of a son of a Crusader who breaks a glass at his wedding ceremony in memory of ancient Jerusalem's torment? Not a one! How could you have heard, when throughout its three thousand year-long history Jerusalem has been capital to no one but to the Jews. So it was. So it is. And so it shall ever be.'"