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Legacy of former Israeli PM sees revival decades after his death

As Israel commemorates the life of Prime Minister Menachem Begin, politicians are selectively using his legacy to boost their own images.
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Almost 2½ decades have passed since the death of Menachem Begin, Israel’s sixth prime minister. Still, the former Likud leader who retired suddenly under rather inexplicable circumstances is making a comeback in Israeli politics. On March 9, which marked the 24th anniversary of Begin’s death, it was hard not to notice how politicians used Begin to boost their images.

It is a fascinating phenomenon. Begin's legacy has not only been adopted by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Likud leaders, but also by Kulanu chair and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid. But while Kahlon grew up in the Likud and admired Begin as a boy, Lapid’s connection to the right-wing leader is not particularly clear, considering that most of his supporters have center-left views. Nevertheless, even Lapid is making an effort to claim Begin as one of his own. What is it about Begin, the man considered responsible for the fiascos of the Lebanon War, that has made him into a banner to draw potential voters? Or perhaps more accurately, why do politicians think this of him?

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