July 24, 2016

A FLICKER IN THE DARK:

'In choice between territories and peace, I prefer peace,' Ben-Gurion said in 1968 (TIMES OF ISRAEL, July 24, 2016)

The former prime minister, celebrated even in life, told kibbutz members he had no wish to receive any special treatment.

"I told them my name is David, not Ben-Gurion. Every morning I came to see what David has to do and I went to do the work," he said.

Ben-Gurion wanted to serve as an example of what Israel could be, and how Israeli leaders should live.

In the interview, conducted a year after the 1967 Six Day War in which Israel conquered the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Old City, the Sinai Peninsula, Golan Heights and Gaza Strip, Ben-Gurion spoke at length of his belief that Israel was still far from achieving its purpose of serving as "a light unto the nations."

Israel's moral compass, he maintained, was inexorably tied to its treatment of the non-Jews living under its rule.

Ben-Gurion criticized those who believed that the biblical commandment to "Love thy friend as thyself" pertained only to Jews, saying that "In the same chapter they said a little later, 'If a stranger will live among you, he should be to you like a citizen and you should love him like yourself because you were strangers in Egypt.' So it doesn't mean only Jews."

He also took the unpopular position in those days of post-war euphoria that Israel should immediately relinquish the territories it had taken if this could secure peace.

"If I could choose between peace and all the territories which we conquered last year, I would prefer peace," he said. He did have two exceptions though: Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

He also voiced opposition to the then-nascent settlement project in the West Bank and Gaza, wondering out loud why it was necessary to settle an area with large Arab populations when the nearly unpopulated Negev desert was available. He said pre-war Israel had enough room for all the Jews who would come to live here in the next 20 or 40 years.

The film also shows a post-war Knesset speech by the former prime minister in which he warns that "our standing in the world will be determined not by our so-called material riches, and not by our military's bravery, but by the moral virtue of our undertaking.

Posted by at July 24, 2016 8:57 AM

  

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