Click on the link here for Audio Player – Meet The Press – Guest: Menachem Begin – Dec. 12, 1948 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection
Today it’s an early Meet The Press interview with Menachem Begin, recorded on December 12th 1948. Before his dramatic political rise to power, Menachem Begin served as Commander-In-Chief of the Irgun underground in Palestine during the 1944 uprising against the British mandate.
Now a newly declared State of Israel, the country was gearing up for its first set of elections in order to draft a constitution. The various underground movements initially involved in the revolt against the Mandate were now organizing as political parties. The militias were dismantled and reformed to create the Israeli Army.
Questions ranged from whether or not Begin was a Communist to if Begin was going to run for any office. It wasn’t clear to the panel what Israel’s intentions were, why Begin was visiting the U.S. and there was confusion over Israel’s refusal to allow the United Nations to intervene in the governing process.
It was Begin’s contention that, since the UN had handled the Partition question so badly, they didn’t seem capable of acting as a governing body over the fledgling state.
And there were questions as to what Israel’s larger intentions were, particularly with reference to Transjordan, which it was rumored Israel wanted to take over, or at least depose King Abdullah. In addition, it was also rumored Israel was intent on taking over the rest of the Palestine region, dismantling the Partition plan and creating one unified state.
All fascinating questions which have been recurring issues over the next six decades.
Here is that complete interview, as it originally ran over NBC Radio and Television on December 12, 1948.