Monday, November 07, 2011

Ben Gurion: An Anecdote

By sheer coincidence, I read today two pieces whose subject was the first prime minister of Israel .

This is one:

"In his 2006 book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (Oneworld Publications), Pappé reported that in a 1937 letter to his son, David Ben-Gurion wrote the following: “The Arabs will have to go, but one needs an opportune moment for making it happen, such as a war.”

It's a damning quote and is featured prominently in With God on Our Side. But it does not appear in any of the sources Pappé cites.

In his book, Pappé provided two references for this quote. The first reference is the July 12, 1937 entry of Ben-Gurion's diary. The second is page 220 of the August-September 1937 issue of New Judea, a newsletter published by the World Zionist Organization.

CAMERA provided electronic copies of both of these sources – neither of which include the quote attributed to Ben-Gurion – to Speakman earlier this week.

In response Speakman issued a press release that states in part:

… this quote cannot be found in the original sources of Ben Gurion's diary and therefore cannot be verified as authentic. While references to this quote exist, we could not find it in its original form. In an effort to be transparent and accurate, the producers have decided to take the extra step of removing it from future printings of "With God On Our Side." We apologize for this change.

The quote attributed to Ben-Gurion also appears in a 2006 article published in The Journal of Palestine Studies. In this article, Pappé provides another source for the quote. He states it appears on pages 167-168 of Charles D. Smith's Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict (Boston and New York: Beford/St. Martin's Press, 2004.

The quote does not appear here, either."

This is the other:

"[S]ome of Mr. Peres's personal reminiscences of Ben-Gurion and his entourage are delightful. One tells how, in 1956, Ben-Gurion, with Mr. Peres present as his aide, met secretly with French prime minister Guy Mollet and his generals to plan the joint Israeli-French-British attack on Egypt after Nasser's nationalization of the Suez Canal. "They were plainly eager to get to know their prospective ally," Mr. Peres relates, and Mollet encouraged Ben-Gurion to open the discussion:

Ben-Gurion took his time. He thought deeply, and then looked up. Mr. Prime Minister, he said, I would like you to explain to me when you in France stopped teaching Latin and went over to French. An argument over French linguistics developed from there, and . . . the whole evening went to hell.

A voracious autodidact always looking for useful information, Ben-Gurion may have been wondering whether there was a parallel worth pursuing with modern Hebrew. Any politician who would rather discuss the development of spoken vernaculars than an attack on Suez is indeed worthy of every bit of admiration that Mr. Peres has for him."


At 10:21 AM EST, Blogger EscapeVelocity said...


We apologize for this change. We dont apologize for spreading Anti Semitic rumors.


Pretty much sums up the Western Left.

Demonization of the disfavored groups is best when it has some basis in fact or truth, but if not, its still a worthy we apologize for removing it.

Sadly, that is what the Western Left has always been and will always be.

Now that Jews are on the recieving end of this, they are waking up to the ugliness of what many of them used to participate in, even champion and lead.

At 10:24 AM EST, Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

"Now that Jews are on the recieving end of this"

Are you kidding me?

At 4:03 AM EDT, Anonymous aaheart said...

David Ben Gurion, Israel's first prime minister, told a Zionist Conference in 1937 that any proposed Jewish state would have to "transfer Arab populations out of the area, if possible of their own free will, if not by coercion."[8]Report of the Congress of the World Council of Paole Zion, Zurich, July 29-August 7, 1937, pp. 73-74.

We were told not to try to speak to Ben Gurion, but when I saw him, I asked why, since Israel is a democracy with a parliament, does it not have a constitution? Ben Gurion said, "Look, boy"-I was 24 at the time-"if we have a constitution, we have to write in it the border of our country. And this is not our border, my dear." I asked, "Then where is the border?" He said, "Wherever the Sahal will come, this is the border." Sahal is the Israeli army. Article by Naim Giladi, author of Ben Gurion's Scandals: How the Haganah & the Mossad Eliminated Jews,

At 7:00 AM EDT, Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

In 1937 Israel was not yet in existence so the whole quote seems highly suspect and implausible. And more to the point, the UK does not have a constitution but still s a democracy so it is hard to see what the argument is.

Israel does not have a constitution but it has Basic laws. And a state's borders are not part of a constitution as can be attested in the most famous constitution in the world: The US Constitution.

Extremely ignorant, disinformed and inciting comment.


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