Plain Truth Magazine
February 1981
Volume: Vol 46, No.2
Issue: ISSN 0032-0420
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THE popular clichι these days is that the world no longer has leaders of the stature of Churchill, Adenauer or de Gaulle. One historian, Ronald Steel, recently declared that we are living in a time of "pygmies" when it comes to leaders. Another historian, Barbara Tuchman, has said "these are not the times that evoke great leadership." However, after accompanying Herbert W. Armstrong on his recent and most successful visit to the Middle East, I am now convinced that there are at least two leaders in the world who do fill the bill as great statesmen. Anwar Sadat radiates a bold confidence every bit the worthy of Churchill or de Gaulle. He is willing to take risks — risks to his own personal political position - to create a peaceful, prosperous Middle East. He is a man who sees clearly the tremendous potential in his own country, and is willing to pursue a clear and consistent path to see that that potential is realized. President Sadat's willingness to do the dramatic — to take bold risks — in pursuit of peace was evident from the beginning of his tenure of leadership. In 1971 he attempted to jar the Middle East out of stalemate with his tough talk about the "year of decision." The next year, he laid the foundation for what later became the Camp David Accords by evicting his Russian ' advisers. By 1976, Mr. Sadat had established himself as a man who was willing to do what was necessary to achieve a Middle East settlement. Even before his historic trip to Israel, then — Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban was describing him as a "historic figure," willing to reduce tensions. The trip to Jerusalem and the establishment of ties to Israel in 1977 likewise followed Mr. Sadat's pattern of bold and courageous statecraft. The offer to go to Jerusalem surprised even his own wife. The trip and a year later the Camp David Accords have cost Egypt's leader support among hard-line nations in the Arab world — but they have been broadly supported by the overwhelming majority of the Egyptian populace who have had to bear much of the brunt of past Arab-Israeli hostility. Perhaps there is no better example of Mr. Sadat's striking courage than his treatment of Shah Reza Pahlavi of Iran. At the time of the shah's illness, Iranian Foreign Minister Sadegh Ghotbzadeh threatened there would be a "great deal of trouble in Egypt" if the shah were allowed refuge there. While much of the rest of the world cringed, President Sadat was undeterred. The shah came to Egypt after being treated like a pariah by his former friends in the West. Later, when the shah died, Mr. Sadat was defiantly alone among the world's leaders in having the personal courage to march in the funeral procession in Cairo. Lesser men, confronted with Egypt's overwhelming economic problems would have resorted to looking for a scapegoat — Israel - on which to divert attention from their problems. But Mr. Sadat has been willing to take constructive action — bold peace efforts to allow the country to channel its resources away from war and into peaceful economic investment. When the final history of the 20th century is written, my bet is that Anwar Sadat will go down as one of our era's truly outstanding leaders. Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin is likewise a towering figure among world leaders. Much has been written, of course, about Mr. Begin's supposed intransigence on such issues as Israeli settlements on the West Bank. But one must remember that the very existence of the state of Israel is always at stake in Middle East negotiations. Accordingly, Mr. Begin has chosen to err on the side of caution: the first duty of any leader is the preservation of his nation and people, and M r. Begin is a man who will not sacrifice the security of Israel for a few favorable headlines. Mr. Begin possesses, as few leaders in the world today possess, a clear sense of his own nation's purpose and identity. To understand Menachem Begin, one must realize that he is the only leader on the world scene who has personally endured the terrors of imprisonment in a Siberian concentration camp, or experienced the heart-break of knowing his own father, mother, brother and sister perished in one of Hitler's death camps. Thus Mr. Begin understands, as few others can, just how precious is the continued existence of the state of Israel and the Jewish people. His overriding sense of Jewish identity manifests itself in his personal faith as well. He is a devout, Orthodox Jew, who ascribes his recovery from a heart attack in 1979 as a direct result of God's intervention. The Western press has underrated Mr. Begin's ability to compromise, and create harmony and agreement. Yet just before the 1967 war, Mr. Begin was instrumental in helping to form the Government of National Unity at a time of deep political crisis. Mr. Begin's own persistence at Camp David in reaching important compromises has not yet received the full credit in the Western press it is due. Like President Sadat, Mr. Begin is a man of courage. He was willing to risk his political future for the sake of the Egyptian-Israeli peace pact. He was willing to expose himself to cruel heckling on the floor of the Knesset, even in front of visiting heads of state, in order to see that the pact got ratified. Mr. Begin is renowned for his old world charm and good manners — a fact that Mr. Armstrong and I know firsthand from our recent visit. In order to meet Mr. Armstrong, Mr. Begin left a meeting in Tel Aviv and made a special one-hour drive to Jerusalem. I continue to believe, as I have written before, that Mr. Begin's reputation as an Israeli "hawk" puts him in a special position to negotiate a final Middle East peace accord. Mr. Begin may be a "tough" bargainer, but the Arabs can know that any agreement they work out with him will be unassailable. Both Mr. Sadat and Mr. Begin have demonstrated clear vision and sense of purpose in their efforts to achieve a Middle East peace. Both are men of goodwill. Each has been willing, as Mr. Armstrong has remarked, to practice the way of "give" in order to break the previous Middle East stalemate. Their examples clearly show that our generation is not without its own Churchills and de Gaulles.

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Plain Truth MagazineFebruary 1981Vol 46, No.2ISSN 0032-0420