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Menachem Begin’s World Travels in the 1950s

A Road to Political Legitimacy

Ofira Gruweis-Kovalsky

Keywords: Begin; Ben-Gurion; Diaspora Jewry; France; Herut movement; Jabotinsky; reparations agreement; Revisionist movement

Abstract

This article analyzes Menachem Begin’s attitude toward the Jewish Diaspora based on documented evidence from his international travels. Begin spent a significant amount of time traveling overseas in the 1950s and 1960s. When his leadership was threatened by Revisionists in Israel and challenged by key members of the Herut party, which he had founded, Begin looked for political legitimacy from Revisionists around the world. The staunch support of Diaspora Revisionists was an asset he could not disregard, and he recruited them as partners in decisions that had an impact on life in Israel. The backing of Diaspora Jewry was one of Begin’s sources of power and helped to secure his leadership in the Herut movement and in the State of Israel.

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