I have written this book primarily for my own people, lest the Jew forget again -- as he so disastrously forgot in the past -- this simple truth: that there are things more precious than life, and more horrible than death.
But I have also written this book also for Gentiles, lest they be unwilling to realize, or all too ready to overlook, the fact that out of blood and fire and tears and ashes a new specimen of human being was born, a specimen completely unknown to the world for over eighteen hundred years, "the Fighting Jew." That Jew, whom the world considered dead and buried never to rise again, has risen. For he has learned that "simple truth" of life and death, and he will never again go down to the sides of the pit and vanish from the earth.
Amongst my Gentile readers I wish to address a special message to the British reader. He will read in the following pages some harsh words about some of his rulers, their policies, their agents; and he may feel that some of the strictures fall gratuitously upon himself as citizen voter in a democratic state. It would not be surprising, therefore, if he should feel himself prejudiced both against the author and the book. After all, for years the author fought against the British authorities. He was described by British newspapers, by members of both Houses of Parliament, by Ministers of State, by generals, admirals, bishops, lawyers, and all the other dramatis personae who "give the clues for cheers and boos" to the ordinary citizen -- as "Terrorist Number One" in Eretz Israel, then called Palestine and ruled by the British government.
I will not offend my British reader's ears with a repetition of all the other offensive names which were used by way of enlightening him concerning the author of this book, during the years of the struggle. He can, if he so desires, take his pick from the rich international vocabulary of name-calling. It is only natural, therefore, that many English readers will ask quite sincerely: What can such a man have to tell us; what message can come from him except a message of hate?
Let us try, without fear, favour, or prejudice, to understand the meaning of the awful word "hate" in this connection. You may ask me: Was there "hate" in our actions, in our revolt against British rule of our country, and is that emotion expressed in this book written by the man who bore the burden of responsibility and subsequently wrote about the facts of the revolt?
To such a question the sincere answer is "Yes."
But was it hatred of the British people as such? The sincere answer is "No."
It is axiomatic that those who fight have to hate -- something or somebody. And we fought. We had to hate first and foremost, the horrifying, age-old, inexcusable utter DEFENSELESSNESS of our Jewish people, wandering through millennia, through a cruel world to the majority whose inhabitants the defenselessness of the Jews was a standing invitation to massacre them. We had to hate the humiliating disgrace of homelessness of our people. We had to hate -- as any nation worthy of the name must and always must hate -- the rule of the foreigner, rule, unjust and unjustifiable, per se, foreign rule in the land of our ancestors, in our own country. We had to hate the barring of the gates of our own country to our brethren, trampled and bleeding and crying out for help in a world morally deaf.
And, naturally, we had to hate all those who, equipped with modern arms and the ancient machinery of the gallows, barred the way of our people to physical salvation, denied them the means of individual defense, frustrated their efforts for national independence, and ruthlessly withstood their efforts to regain their national honor and restore their self-respect.
Who will condemn the hatred of evil that springs from the love of what is good and just? Such hatred has been the driving force of progress in the world's history -- "not peace but a sword" in the cause of mankind's advancement. And in our case, such hate has been nothing more and nothing less than a manifestation of that highest human feeling: love. For if you love Freedom, you must hate Slavery; if you love your people, you cannot but hate the foreign enemies that compass their destruction; if you love your country, you cannot but hate those who seek to annex it. Simply put: if you love your mother, would you not hate the man who sought to kill her: would you not hate him and fight him at the cost, if needs be, of your own life?
This is a fundamental human question in the violent and stormy world of today. Let every decent man search his soul and decently answer. Because ultimately the hope of every people lies in the readiness of its sons to stake their lives "for their mothers," for freedom which man loves, against serfdom which man hates and should hate in the name of his love.
The author has not written these preliminary lines in order to make harsh words less galling and bitter truths more palatable. He has written them, as he has written the whole of this book, for the sake of truth. And truth compels him to ask himself in the presence of his readers, Gentile readers and hostile readers, this testing question: If ever again your people should find themselves in a position like that in which they were when you had to "go underground," to fight, to become a hunted "rebel" -- in such circumstances would you do what you did then?
The answer is definitely: "Yes."
Introduction, "The Revolt" by Menachem Begin, 1951.