David Ben-Gurion

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In Israel, in order to be a realist you must believe in miracles.

David Ben-Gurion (Hebrew: דָּוִד בֶּן גּוּרִיּוֹן) (October 16, 1886 – December 1, 1973) was the first Prime Minister of Israel. He was a leading Zionist worker before the starting of the Jewish state, and played an important role in Israel when the British Mandate in Palestine ended. He lead Israel through the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, and lead the country in its first years, not retiring until 1970.

Sourced quotes

  • "Everybody sees a difficulty in the question of relations between Arabs and Jews. But not everybody sees that there is no solution to this question. No solution! There is a gulf, and nothing can bridge it... We, as a nation, want this country to be ours; the Arabs, as a nation, want this country to be theirs."[1]
Simple: Everybody sees something hard in the question of relations between Arabs and Jews. But not everyone can see that there is no answer to this problem. No answser! There is a river, and we cannot get past it... We, as a country, want this land to be ours; the Arabs, as a country, want this land for themselves.
About the quote: Written statement (June 1919).
  • "Under no circumstances must we touch land belonging to fellahs or worked by them. Only if a fellah leaves his place of settlement, should we offer to buy his land, at an appropriate price."[2]
About the quote: Written statement (1920).
  • "We do not wish and do not need to expel Arabs and take their places."[3]
About the quote: Letter to his son Amos (October 5, 1937).
  • "The assets of the Jewish National Home must be created exclusively through our own work, for only the product of the Hebrew labor can serve as the national estate."[4]
  • The acceptance of partition does not commit us to renounce Transjordan: one does not demand from anybody to give up his vision. We shall accept a state in the boundaries fixed today, but the boundaries of Zionist aspirations are the concern of the Jewish people and no external factor will be able to limit them.
    • Speech in 1937, accepting a British proposal for partition of Palestine which created a potential Jewish majority state, as quoted in New Outlook (April 1977)
  • Terrorism benefits the Arabs, it may lay waste the Yishuv and shake Zionism. But to follow in the Arabs' footsteps and ape their deeds is to be blind to the gulf between us. Our aims and theirs run counter: methods calculated to further theirs, are ruinous to us.
    • "On three fronts" (3 August 1938) as quoted in Rebirth and Destiny of Israel (1954), p. 91
  • From Jewish terrorism against Arabs it is a short step to Jewish terrorism against Jews.
    • "On three fronts" (3 August 1938) as quoted in Rebirth and Destiny of Israel (1954), p. 91
  • We accepted the UN resolution, but the Arabs did not. They are preparing to make war on us. If we defeat them and capture western Galilee or territory on both sides of the road to Jerusalem, these areas will become part of the state. Why should we obligate ourselves to accept boundaries that in any case the Arabs don't accept?
    • Ellli Wohlgelernter, "One day that shook the world", Jerusalem Post. [1]
    • Address to the Israeli cabinet (12 May 1948)
  • We extend the hand of peace and good-neighborliness to all the States around us and to their people, and we call upon them to cooperate in mutual helpfulness with the independent Jewish nation in its Land. The State of Israel is prepared to make its contribution in a concerted effort for the advancement of the entire Middle East.
    • Israel's Proclamation of Independence, read on (14 May 1948)
  • Even amidst the violent attacks launched against us for months past, we call upon the sons of the Arab people dwelling in Israel to keep the peace and to play their part in building the State on the basis of full and equal citizenship and due representation in all its institutions, provisional and permanent.
    • Israel's Proclamation of Independence, read on (14 May 1948)
  • To maintain the status quo will not do. We have to set up a dynamic state bent upon expansion.
    • As quoted in Rebirth and Destiny of Israel (1954), p. p. 419.
  • In Israel, in order to be a realist you must believe in miracles.
    • Interview on CBS, (5 October 1956)
Simple: Many of the normal and regular happenings in Israel would be strange and miraculous according to peoples of other countries.
  • I don't understand your optimism. Why should the Arabs make peace? If I was an Arab leader I would never make terms with Israel. That is natural: we have taken their country. Sure God promised it to us, but what does that matter to them? Our God is not theirs. We come from Israel, but two thousand years ago, and what is that to them? There has been antisemitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They only see one thing: we have come here and stolen their country. Why should they accept that? They may perhaps forget in one or two generations' time, but for the moment there is no chance. So, it's simple: we have to stay strong and maintain a powerful army. Our whole policy is there. Otherwise the Arabs will wipe us out.
    • As quoted in The Jewish Paradox : A personal memoir (1978) by Nahum Goldmann (translated by Steve Cox), p. 99.
  • If I knew that it was possible to save all the children of Germany by transporting them to England, and only half by transferring them to the Land of Israel, I would choose the latter, for before us lies not only the numbers of these children but the historical reckoning of the people of Israel.
    • Attributed to Ben-Gurion by Martin Gilbert in [2] "Israel was everything" in The New York Times (21 June 1987)]
  • Let me first tell you one thing: It doesn't matter what the world says about Israel; it doesn't matter what they say about us anywhere else. The only thing that matters is that we can exist here on the land of our forefathers. And unless we show the Arabs that there is a high price to pay for murdering Jews, we won't survive.
    • As quoted by Ariel Sharon, in the documentary Israel and the Arabs: 50 Year War, this advice was given to him by Ben-Gurion after the controversial raid on Qibya.
Simple: First, let me tell you one thing: It's not important what the world says about Israel. It's not important what they say about us anywhere else. The only thing that's important is that we can live here on the land of our ancestors (fathers' fathers, etc.). And if we don't show the Arabs that they have to pay a high price for killing Jews, we won't continue living.
  • [In a letter to Winston Churchill] I saw you then not only as the symbol of your people and its greatness, but as the voice of the invincible and uncompromising conscience of the human race at a time of danger to the dignity of man, created in the image of God. It was not only the liberties and the honor of your own people that you saved.
Simple: [In a letter to Winston Churchill] I thought of you then as not only someone who means your people and how great your peopla are. I thought of you as the voice of the conscience of the human race, a conscience which can't lose and which doesn't give up. You were this conscience at a time of danger to the goodness of man; and man was made to be like God. You didn't only save the freedom and honor of your own people.
  • The most dangerous enemy to Israel’s security is the intellectual inertia of those who are responsible for security.
    • Quoted in FrontPage Magazine. [3]
Simple: The thing that brings the most danger to the safety of Israel is not a person. It's when the people who are supposed to keep Israel safe are not able to think in new ways.

Unsourced quotes

  • "If an expert says it can't be done, get another expert."
  • "Anyone who believes you can't change history has never tried to write his memoirs."
  • "I was in Dachau and Belsen. I saw chambers where hundreds of Jews were put to death every day... It is beyond mortal power to bring back to life six million who were burned, asphyxiated and buried alive by the Nazis. But our six million brothers and sisters who went to their deaths have bequeathed us a sacred injunction: to prevent such a disaster overtaking the Jewish peoples in the future and to do so by the Jewish people being an independent people in its own land, capable of resisting any foe or enemy by its own strength."
  • "We must help the [British] Army [fight the Nazis] as if there was no White Paper, and the White Paper as if there was no war."
    • September 12, 1939.
  • "Um-Shmoom."
    • Transliteration of Hebrew statement meaning "The UN – Blah!".

References

  1. Time magazine (July 24, 2006)
  2. Ben-Gurion and the Palestinian Arabs : From Peace to War (1985) by Shabtai Teveth, page 32.
  3. Fabricating Israeli History: The 'New Historians, (2000) by Efraim Karsh, Google Books.
  4. Ben-Gurion and the Palestinian Arabs : From Peace to War (1985) by Shabtai Teveth, page 66

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