Ben Gurion Reviews Israel’s Problems; Clarifies Stand on Germany
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Ben Gurion Reviews Israel’s Problems; Clarifies Stand on Germany

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Israel’s foreign and internal problems were reviewed by Premier David Ben Gurion in a lengthy interview in connection with the Jewish New Year. The Prime Minister emphasized that, in the world of today, “it is not possible to solve historic problems by military force alone.”

In his interview, given to the daily newspaper Haaretz, the Premier went into great lengths to clarify his attitude toward West Germany, Mr. Ben Gurion listed two assumptions: 1. The acts of the Nazis should not be forgiven or forgotten; the entire German people is responsible because what was done under the Nazis was not done by a single person but with the accord of the people of Germany; 2. The sins of the Nazis should not be visited upon the Germans, for that is the race theory. He asserted that he would be ashamed “if that race theory were to infect us.”

Mr. Ben Gurion denied that the present Germany was the same as the generation of Hitler. “I think,” he said, “that East Germany’s people are murderers and scoundrels because they feel no responsibility for what was done. But West Germany’s people recognize the responsibility — even those who have not done these things.”

Asked how the same generation could be both responsible and not responsible for what was done by the Nazis, Mr. Ben Gurion said: “The younger generation is different. Morally, Nazism is not ruling Germany and, in my opinion, will not rule. I do not hate the German youngster because his father was a Nazi.”

The Premier asserted that Israel should win the German peoples’ friendship, just as it is trying to win the friendship of other people. In reply to a question, he stated that he is against Israelis studying in Germany and is also against the use of the German language in Israeli schools. However, he said, he favored having German tourists visit Israel, declaring “in my eyes, the German people is like any other people.” He said he would be ready to visit Germany for political reasons, but would not choose Germany for a private trip.

Asked about Israel’s sale of arms to Germany, he said: “I am proud of it because I regard it as a revenge against the Nazis.” After further discussion of this point, he stated “I think that what are often called irrational considerations are the true considerations. My irrational consideration was to sell arms. First of all, I consider this a revenge against Nazism–that Jewish arms are supplied to the German Army.”


Discussing Israel’s political situation, Mr. Ben Gurion said he would not express Israel’s policy either the way it has been expressed by former Gen. Moshe Dayan or by the former Ambassador to the United States, Abba Eban. “We must understand the balance of world forces,” he stated, “and must assume that we have sufficient deterrent force and, if fighting is inevitable, enough power to win.”

The Premier defended reprisal attacks against Arab states prior to the Sinai campaign of 1956, excepting the Kibyah attack. He denied that Israel’s attack against Syria in Lake Tiberias spoiled Israel’s chances for getting arms from the United States. The Premier asserted his conviction that Nasser does not want peace “since he only talks peacefully to foreigners not seriously engaged in the peace effort, but refuses to talk peace in speaking to persons engaged in a serious effort.”

Coming to internal Israeli problems, Mr. Ben Gurion said the ethnic absorption of immigrants may take two generations. He claimed that the religious political parties in Israel are actually alien to Judaism and are the result of a Catholic environment from which many Ashkenazi leaders immigrated to Israel. He praised the Oriental, Orthodox Jews who, he said, can be the most pious but still greatly tolerant. However, he added, the time has not yet come for fundamental decisions on religious matters, therefore compromise is needed.

Discussing Israel’s social system, the Premier asserted: “I personally am extremely opposed to private ownership, today more than in the past. But the central issue today is the ingathering of the exiles, the building-up of the country, and I am willing to utilize the love of money if I can help build up the country in this way.”

Mr. Ben-Gurion declared that, if the Mapai Party obtains 51 percent of the vote in the coming elections to the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament, only one law would be adopted by the Knesset–changing the electoral system to the Anglo-American type of constituency. Then, he said, the Knesset would be dispersed for a new election under that system.

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