In a country where resignation letters accepting resignations (usually with "sadness" or "reluctance") are so unfailingly decorous and so remorselessly devoted to obscuring what was at issue in a fog of flattery about great "accomplishments" and the "privilege of serving you" and so forth, it is instructive to see how they do it elsewhere -- especially when they are really mad. There follow relevant excerpts from the exchange between Israel's Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Ezer Weizman over Weizman's recent resignation as defense minister. Dear Mr. Prime Minister,

I hereby submit my resignation as defence minister and a member of the Israeli Government.

My resignation should come as no surprise to you: In recent frank conversations I have held with you, I have never made a secret of my opinions. I explained to you that the gap between our positions is growing deeper and deeper. Too many of the key issues that the government deals with have become the subject of division between us.

My reservations about the government's peace plan, its social policy and its style of functioning have become graver. I felt a growing realization that our paths are diverging and that soon I would no longer be able to serve in your cabinet. Now this recognition has become firmly established and my moment to leave has come. . . .

At the beginning of our incombency we could argue that we were not responsible, that we were paying for the sins of our presecessors. We explained that the burden we inherited was almost too heavy to lift. But after two and three years of explanations, those excuses became pale and no longer stood up.

The IDF [Israel Defense Force] cannot be managed according to the monthyl fluctuations of the cost-of-living index and according to the changing moods of the economic cabinet. The way the defense budget was handled reflects accurately the way the government handled all its affairs; not with serious planning and foresight, but was improvisation.

In the matter of the peace with Egypt, too, my heart is not at one with the government's policy. The road leading to the strengthening and consolidation of peace is indeed wide and open, but it is not being used.

Instead of taking determined steps towards a stable and comprehensive peace, we are marching in place.

Since its indepence, the nation of Israel has known times of peaks and depths, of high tides and low. But never, I believe, has there been such despondency and depression as in the last few years.

It is not the hardships and the critical moments that have made the spirit fall. It is a leadership that sows despondency. And he who sows despondency incessantly reaps despair.

I don't believe in the policy of prophecy, which fails to reveal the path to a breakthrough.

The people off Israel had moments of happiness and hope during our tenure. Those were the days of the impending peace. The people believed in the peace then, and they believed in the government. It is not the people who have stopped believing in the peace.

True leadership could have lit a new spirit and brought to the surfface great strengths inside the nation -- from the best of the country's youth serving in the IDF to the hundreds off thousands of good and dedicated citizens in whom there is a love off country, true Zionism, and love humanity. c

And here, Mr. Prime Minister, was the rare opportunity that you missed. Yours, Ezer Weizman To: Mr. Ezer Weizman, Minister of Defence

I hereby acknowledge with gratitude your letter of May 26, 1980, in which you inform me, as required by law, of your resignation from your post in the Government of Israil. . . .

Indeed it is true that recently we have held discusions in which you often threatened to leave the government. You have also done it in the past, relatively periodically. Although your resignation did not come as a surprise to me, I understood from your frequent demands, including those made on the day of the holiday of Shavuot, that the incentive for your readiness, or for your wish to resign, is the demand made by the minister of finance to cut the defence budget. Yet in your letter, you extended your criticism to cover all fields of official activity. I am amazed. . . .

I also remember that, when we were in Ismailiya holding important talks with President Sadat and his advisers, you whispered to me, during one of the important debates with the Egyptians: "How good it is that you are the prime minister." And I also remember that often you found it necessary to say to me, while mentioning great names: You will be marked in history as the one who signed a peace agreement with Egypt."

And I also remember that only 14 months ago, after I signed the peace agreement in the name of the people of Israel, and after I made a certain speech, you praised it extravagantly, with superlatives the likes of which I have never heard from anyone.

And now, all of a sudden, nothing with respect to the activities of the Government of Israel seems to please you, especially in the matter of peace. . . . A man who for three years served as the defence minister in the Government of Israel accuses it of responsibility for the absence of progress in the peace efforts.

Needless to say, he knows that this accusation is unfound. . . . It is the Egyptian proposals with respect to Jerusalem, the matter of security and the nature of autonomy -- which wholly contradict the Camp David Agreements and which endanger the safety, the existence and the future of Israel -- that have delayed the progress of negotiations, which have also been interrupted twice by Egypt.

If in the face of these facts the resigning defense minister, after he himself has had to reject General Ali's proposals in the security matters, makes an accusation for other nations to hear, blaming the government for "marching in place," then there is no measure to the gravity of this act.

A shocking frivolity has guided you, through a desire to reappear in certain foreign countries as the only "pursuer of peace," in a government composed of peace saboteurs.

I assure you, my esteemed Mr. Weizman, that we shall concern ourselves with remedying this injustice you have done to truth, to the people, to the government, and to each one of its members.

You were given the chance, and perhaps I was among those who gave it to you, to fulfill the important post of defence minister in the Government of Israel in an extremely important period. Yet you, out of impatience and rashness, which are remembered by many from the history of the Herut movement, attempted to depose me, both openly -- on television while I was in the U.S. on an important national mission, including putting into effect the agreement for the engine off the "Lavie" airplane, in a special conversation with the president of the U.S. -- as well as by intrigue, which could not have remained a secret, in order to replace me.

In this attempt to undermine me, you again failed completely. You were given, Mr. Defence Minister, a rare opportunity, but you have abandoned it out of ambition that is mind-numbing. Sincerely M. Begin