Yehuda Avner had a front-row seat to global politics and the inner workings of the Israeli government. Avner served as adviser and English speechwriter to four Israeli Prime Ministers: Levi Eshkol, Golda Meir, Yitzhak Rabin, and Menachem Begin. His book, The Prime Ministers is his fascinating first-hand account.
Avner would call Begin, "Israel's most extraordinary prime minister," but when Begin took office on June 21, 1977 he was looked upon with suspicion and doubt by many -- both inside and outside of Israel.
In his first day on the job, Begin received a call from Sir Isaac Wolfson, a trusted British business leader and philanthropist. After thanking Sir Isaac for his expressions of congratulation and support, Begin said:
"B'ezrat hashem -- with God's help -- our new government will do good things for Israel and for the Jewish people." Then with a roguish glint in his eye and sarcasm in his voice, he asked, "So tell me, Sir Isaac, the British press, do they have a good word to say about me on my first day in office, or am I still their favorite fiend?"
Wolfson's answer was not what Begin wanted to hear, but it did not surprise the prime minister either. This cordial conversation continued:
Sir Isaac continued, obviously reporting other things that upset Begin, and as he listened, incredulity issued from him in the form of words like "Unbelievable!" "Amazing!" "Outrageous!" Finally, in a tone of resignation, he lamented, "So, there are still people out there who think of me only as the ex-terrorist, eh? After all these years they are still blinded by their prejudices. But I do not complain. It's their neurosis, not mine." He then breathed a long and audible sigh and, through it muttered, "Sad! Very sad! Yet the truth will out. It always does."
Begin's maxim is one I have used for years: Time and truth walk hand in hand. Those words are powerful. Yehuda Avner noted that simply breathing out the words restored Begin's spirit.
Followers of Jesus should take a lesson from Begin and remember that time and truth do walk hand in hand. The writer of Ecclesiastes reminds us, "For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil" (Ecclesiastes 12:14 ESV).
The point for believers is not to wipe our hands in fiendish glee thinking, "They are going to get theirs!" Rather, it is to understand that God sees, God knows, and God will take bring about resolution in his way in his time. So Paul writes:
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:14-21 ESV
Time and truth walk hand in hand. In the meantime, we continue to give what we have been given: Grace!
- "B'ezrat hashem -- with God's help ..." from The Prime Ministers: An Intimate Narrative Of Israeli Leadership by Yehuda Avner. New Milford, CT: The Toby Press. 2010. Page 367.
- "Sir Isaac continued ..." from The Prime Ministers, page 368.