How David Ben-Gurion challenged Dulles

Dear Friends,
Although I spend my waking hours working at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center, I don’t use this column to push programs — at least not too often. However, here is a wonderful free opportunity.
At 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 3, at the J, there will be an exclusive screening of “Ben-Gurion, Epilogue,” with an introduction by and conversations with Doug Seserman, CEO of American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. This movie won the 2017 Israeli Ophir Award (Israeli Oscars) for Best Documentary.
Admission is free, but space is limited. RSVP is required by Friday, Nov. 30 — contact or 646-452-3710.
This reminded me of a special story about founding Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion that was shared by his grandson. As you read this story of our people, remember that telling our stories both about our people and even our families is so important.
“In 1954, when Ben-Gurion was prime minister, he traveled to the USA to meet with President (Dwight) Eisenhower to request his assistance and support in the early and difficult days of the State of Israel.
“John Foster Dulles, who was the then secretary of state, confronted Ben-Gurion and challenged him as follows:
“‘Tell me, Mr. Prime Minister — who do you and your state represent? Does it represent the Jews of Poland, perhaps Yemen, Romania, Morocco, Iraq, Russia or perhaps Brazil? After 2,000 years of exile, can you honestly speak about a single nation, a single culture? Can you speak about a single heritage or perhaps a single Jewish tradition?’”
“Ben-Gurion answered him as follows:
“‘Look, Mr. Secretary of State — approximately 300 years ago, the Mayflower set sail from England and on it were the first settlers who settled in what would become the largest democratic superpower known as the United States of America. Now, do me a favor — go out into the streets and find 10 American children and ask them the following:
• “‘What was the name of the Captain of the Mayflower?
• “‘How long did the voyage take?
• “‘What did the people who were on the ship eat?
• “‘What were the conditions of sailing during the voyage?
“‘I’m sure you would agree with me that there is a good chance that you won’t get a good answer to these questions.
“‘Now in contrast — not 300 but more than 3,000 years ago, the Jews left the land of Egypt.
“‘I would kindly request from you, Mr. Secretary, that on one of your trips around the world, try and meet 10 Jewish children in different countries. And ask them:
• “‘What was the name of the leader who took the Jews out of Egypt?
• “‘How long did it take them before they got to the land of Israel?
• “‘What did they eat during the period when they were wandering in the desert?
• “‘And what happened to the sea when they encountered it?
“‘Once you get the answers to these questions, please carefully reconsider the question that you have just asked me.’”

Leave a Reply