Ben-gurion Outlines Israel’s Needs in Address at Brandeis University
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Ben-gurion Outlines Israel’s Needs in Address at Brandeis University

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Israel Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, addressing an audience of 3, 000 leading educators, diplomats and dignitaries of this state at a special convocation at Brandeis University–at which he was awarded an honorary degree–said today that Israel’s “primary” requirements at this time called for the tightening of the country’s security, bolstering its political position and expansion of its economy. He warned however that “these efforts will not succeed unless sustained by a great spiritual dedication.”

In a colorful ceremony, Dr. Abram Leon Sachar, president of Brandeis University, conferred the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws upon the Israeli Premier who flew from Israel yesterday especially for the convocation. Mr. Ben-Gurion then delivered the principle address of the convocation, speaking on the theme of “Science and Ethics: The Contribution of Greece, India and Israel.”

In the course of his scholarly dissertation, Mr. Ben-Gurion drew upon the historic experiences of Israel, Greece, and India to establish the fact that the philosophies underlying the cultures of Greek, Buddhist and Jewish experiences called for a complete integration of moral values and scientific truths. “The Jewish people in days gone by. ” Mr. Ben-Gurion affirmed, “was privileged to be one of the three ancient peoples that bequeathed immortal values to mankind.”

Mr. Ben-Gurion went on to say that the “real driving force” for hundreds of thousands of immigrants coming to Israel” was the messianic vision they had preserved in their hearts from the moment they went into exile more than 2,500 years ago. “Had it not been for that spirit, ” he asserted, “they would not have clung to their Jewishness, they would have never returned to Israel.”


The spirit that Israel needs now, Mr. Ben Gurion said, is “first of all, the conquest of science. “Through such conquests, he said, “we shall rise ever higher. ” But, he cautioned, “science in isolation cannot suffice; it needs moral force to direct it. The second spiritual imperative, therefore, is the great and ethical values of Judaism. Our prophets found and demanded justice–not only in the life of man, but in the whole world, in the entire cosmos.

“Only by pursuing the goals of prophetic ethics is it possible to direct the tremendous and fructifying power of science so that it may be a blessing to peoples and to men. Science unguided by moral values could be dangerous. Morality itself, however, ” Mr, Ben-Gurion affirmed, “can be beneficial on one condition alone: not if it is preached to others, not if it is elegantly expounded, but if it is observed not just in theory but in practice also. “

Pointing out that modern Israel represents the fulfillment of the “Messianic vision” for the Jewish people, Mr. Ben-Gurion said: “True, for the first phase of the third restoration of our independence–and that phase will last for many, many years–we shall, as up to now, indeed be constrained to invest the better part of our energy and our spiritual and physical forces in Israel in fortifying our security, developing the country, building up its economy, absorbing its immigrants, and laying safe foundations of a free and independent nation, sovereign in its own right.


“Our independence is still in danger. We are still beleaguered. We still face vital problems in regard to immigrant absorption. Our deserts still await redemption. Our primary endeavor therefore, must lie in the security, political and economic spheres. These efforts, however, will not succeed unless sustained by a great spiritual dedication.”

“One of the marvels of our generation,” Mr. Ben-Gurion continued, “has been the victory of the Israel defense forces. But it was not by its weapons or its numbers that the young Israel army withstood the onslaught of the enemy hosts. Its secret weapon was the high moral quality of our youth. “

Recalling the fact that the State of Israel today “still comprises less than 2, 000,000 Jews,” Mr, Ben-Gurion said: “Today we have yet to consummate the process of rebuilding. The road ahead is long and hard. And while engaged in our national regeneration, we must always remember the Messianic vision of redemption that preserved us for thousands of years. That vision fore saw not only the complete redemption of the Jewish people, but of all humanity. For there can be no whole and lasting redemption of our people without the redemption of all nations. “


Earlier in the morning, the Prime Minister and Mrs. Ben-Gurion, as well as Israel Ambassador Avraham Harman, were guests of honor at ‘an informal breakfast tendered at Brandeis University, at which the Prime Minister proposed a program of exchange of scholarships between Brandeis and other American universities and Israeli schools of higher learning.

Dr. Abram L. Sachar, president of the Brandeis University, who greeted the guests on behalf of the faculty and the board of trustees, declared he was “willing to take up the Prime Minister immediately. ” He said there was no reason why an Israeli workshop for Brandeis students could not be set up in the very near future.

Mr. and Mrs. Ben-Gurion were greeted also at the breakfast by Abraham Feinberg, chairman of the Brandeis board of trustees, and by Mr. Harman. Others at the table with the Prime Minister included Austin Rhodes, Mayor of Waltham, and Theodore Kollek, Director General of the Prime Minister’s office.

Dr. Sachar and other members of the faculty and administration then took Mr. and Mrs. Ben-Gurion by automobile for a tour of the snow-clad campus. Hundreds of students cheered the Prime Minister as he inspected the campus. All classes had been dismissed during Mr. Ben-Gurion’s visit.


The text of the scroll presented to Prime Minister Ben-Gurion by Dr. Sachar at the convocation ceremony, conferring upon him “all the rights and privileges” of the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws, reads as follows:

“The trustees of Brandeis University, upon the recommendation of the faculty, have conferred the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws on David Ben-Gurion, statesman, scholar, author, Prime Minister of Israel and symbol of her strength and courage, all of whose gifts converge to a single purpose, securing the future of Israel. As head and front of the Jewish Agency, a resourceful guide for his people through the horrors of Nazism and the second World War.

“In newly created Israel, the leader in a magnificent defense against the onslaught of misguided neighbors. In the tasks of state building, a modern Ezra, sounding the clarion for the return of the dispersed of his people to a hospitable homeland. Anchored in the prophetic tradition, he reaches out for universal truth. The ideal philosopher-statesman who would have delighted Plato and Isaiah.”

Mr. and Mrs. Ben-Gurion left Logan International Airport at Boston for Washington at 3:10 p.m.

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