I was so taken by The Prime Ministers, that I moved heaven and earth to meet the author, Yehuda Avner,on a recent visit to Israel. Mr. Avner (please call me "Yehuda") graciously showed up at a cafe in his building and ordered an orange juice to my cafe latte. Dressed simply in a windbreaker, shirt, and slacks, Mr. Avner immediately radiates an impression of being a wonderful listener. Rather than telling me more stories, he asked first what I had thought of his book. When I responded that I thought it was actually a love story, his eyes lit up, and he confirmed my view, saying that while he admired and respected all of the Prime Ministers that he wrote about, his real love was for Menachim Begin. Part of this is because Begin, like Avner, was the first Prime Minister who was "religious." Mr. Avner told a wonderful story (not in the book) about a disagreement between himself and former Prime Minister Rabin, who could not understand Mr. Avner's unwillingness to work on Shabbat, despite an international crisis. When Avner finally showed up after the Sabbath had ended, Rabin responded scornfully, "Oh, now you are here when it is really too late." Mr.Begin, on the other hand, confined himself to synagogue and his home on the Sabbath and did not ask his staff to work.
Clearly, Mr. Avner has many more tales to tell, some of which will appear in a second installment of his book that he is presently working on. For now, I am left with the memory of a man who observed and played an important role in the formative years of the Jewish state and who relates his experiences in a warm and personal way. When I commented that I enjoyed the book because of its total absence of negative stories, Mr. Avner said, "So you noticed!" This is the beauty of being with Mr. Avner: you will never hear anything nasty or unpleasant. Only the beautiful is on display from this beautiful and wise man.