Maya Mark discusses Menachem Begin's commitment to Liberalism
The Military Government over the Arab citizens of Israel was established several months after the founding of the state, and ended late in 1966. Although it was initially driven by security considerations and fears concerning the Arab citizens’ involvement in hostile activities, its political and economic usefulness to the government and particularly to the ruling party, Mapai, became increasingly apparent over time.
The talk will focus on the campaign waged by Herut, a right-wing National-Liberal party, to abolish the Military Government. Launched in 1959, this campaign was a major rallying cry of the party and its leader Menachem Begin. A critical analysis suggests that Herut derived certain political benefits by campaigning for the annulment of the Military Government, the most important of which was undermining its political rival, Mapai. However, it also establishes that Herut paid a price for its campaign, suffering criticism from within the right-wing political camp and wrestling with allegations from the left-wing political camp. Nevertheless, Begin pursued the cause of abolishing the Military Government while articulating an explicit commitment to democracy, liberty and full civic equality between Jews and Arabs in Israel.