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    "Mr. President, I wish to tell you something personal - not about me, but about my generation. What you have just heard about the Jewish people's inherent rights to the Land of Israel may seem academic to you, theoretical, even moot. But not to my generation. To my generation of Jews, these eternal bonds are indisputable and incontrovertible truths, as old as recorded time." - Menachem Begin

    "We don't need legitimacy. We exist. Therefore we are legitimate." - Menachem Begin

    The conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians is over 70 years old and counting but has its roots in over 2,000 years of history. With so much time and history, the Middle East peace process has become laden with unique, politically sensitive concepts like the right of return, contiguous borders, secure borders, demilitarized zones, and security requirements, with players like the Quartet, Palestinian Authority, Fatah, Hamas, the Arab League, and Israel. Over time, it has become exceedingly difficult for even sophisticated political pundits and followers to keep track of it all.

    Israel has rarely reached agreements with its neighbors, and when it did so at the end of the 1970s, it was accomplished by a prime minister who was one of the nation’s most famous military officers. After the Yom Kippur War, President Jimmy Carter’s administration sought to establish a peace process that would settle the conflict in the Middle East, while also reducing Soviet influence in the region.

    On September 17, 1978, after secret negotiations at the presidential retreat Camp David, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin signed a peace treaty between the two nations, in which Israel ceded the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt in exchange for a normalization of relations, making Egypt the first Arab adversary to officially recognize Israel. Carter also tried to create a peace process that would settle the rest of the conflict vis-à-vis the Israelis and Palestinians, but it never got off the ground.

    For the Camp David Accords, Begin and Sadat won the Nobel Peace Prize. Begin had once been a leader of the paramilitary group Irgun, while Sadat had succeeded Nasser. Ultimately, the peace treaty may have cost Sadat his life: He was assassinated in 1981 by fundamentalist military officers during a victory parade.

    Menachem Begin: The Life and Legacy of the Irgun Leader Who Became Israel’s Prime Minister looks at how Begin rose the ranks through militias and governments to become one of the Jewish State’s most consequential leaders.

    ©2019 Charles River Editors (P)2019 Charles River Editors

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