Peace in the Mak­ing: The Men­achem Begin-Anwar El-Sadat Per­son­al Correspondence

Har­ry Hur­witz and Yis­rael Medad, ed.
  • Review
By – September 1, 2011
In his for­ward to this impor­tant pub­li­ca­tion Har­ry Hur­witz, a long­time friend of the for­mer Prime Min­is­ter, recalls that: Let­ter writ­ing, [Men­achem Begin] lament­ed, was a dying skill. Lan­guage was being robbed of pre­ci­sion and clar­i­ty.” Unfor­tu­nate­ly there is a pauci­ty of the immense­ly inter­est­ing and impor­tant cor­re­spon­dence between Begin and Egypt’s pres­i­dent Anwar Sadat. The edi­tors have brought togeth­er this lim­it­ed cor­re­spon­dence and tran­scripts of var­i­ous speech­es the two lead­ers gave on the sub­ject of peace between 1977 – 1982.

The ori­gins of the Egypt­ian-Israeli peace treaty lie in Anwar Sadat’s deci­sion to accept an invi­ta­tion to speak to Israel’s Knes­set in Novem­ber, 1977. In the speech he dwelled on the role of God, who he men­tioned four­teen times, in the peace process and the impor­tance of set­tling the Pales­tin­ian issue. Begin, for his part, stressed the Jew­ish people’s con­nec­tion to the land of Israel: It is my duty today to tell our guests and all the nations who are watch­ing us and lis­ten­ing to our words about the bond between our peo­ple and this Land.” The sub­se­quent exchanges of let­ters between the two lead­ers illus­trate their per­son­al­i­ties and views on a vari­ety of issues.

The pri­ma­ry sources com­piled here both illus­trate the com­plex­i­ty of the peace process and are a time­ly pub­li­ca­tion in light of the cur­rent upheavals in Egypt and through­out the Mid­dle East. Con­cise, help­ful notes through­out the text pro­vide the read­er with nec­es­sary infor­ma­tion and back­ground. The vol­ume will prob­a­bly be most help­ful to schol­ars or pro­fes­sion­als as it com­bines, for the first time, the entire cor­re­spon­dence between Begin and Sadat in an acces­si­ble for­mat.

Appen­dix of Knes­set speech­es, text of Camp David Accords and text of Peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, bibliography.
Seth J. Frantz­man received his Ph.D. from the Hebrew Uni­ver­si­ty of Jerusalem where he cur­rent­ly holds a Post-Doc­tor­al Fel­low­ship. He is a colum­nist for the Jerusalem Post and Fel­low at the Jerusalem Insti­tute of Mar­ket Studies.

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