SDE BOKER (Oct. 2)
Thousands of persons converged today on this isolated kibbutz in the Negev to pay homage to former Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion. Today’s event was the first of several celebrations in various parts of the country marking the 80th birthday of the man who headed Israel’s Government for 15 of the 18 years since the rebirth of the State.
The celebration at Sde Boker, where Mr. Ben-Gurion has been living since he left the premiership three years ago, included musical tributes to the former Prime Minister and a pageant depicting incidents in his career.
The well wishers, who started gathering at the kibbutz early this morning, included members of the diplomatic corps, hundreds of Palmach and Hagannah veterans, and kibbutz members from all parts of the country.
On Friday, President Zalman Shazar arrived here aboard a helicopter to congratulate Mr. Ben-Gurion and announced his personal contribution of 1,440 pounds ($380), representing the age of the former Premier multiplied by the age of the State of Israel, for a special fund to be set up for the publication of Mr. Ben-Gurion’s articles. Mr. Ben-Gurion, who appeared pale due to a recent illness, was also greeted by Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin, who came here on behalf of the armed forces.
Premier Levi Eshkol and Mrs. Golda Meir, secretary-general of the Mapai Party which Mr. Ben-Gurion left to form his own dissident Israel Workers Party (Rafi), were not present at the celebrations. They have been at odds, politically, with the former Premier, for the past two years.
(In New York, the American Labor Zionist movement held a special rally to honor Mr. Ben-Gurion upon his 80th anniversary. Participating in the event, held in Farband House auditorium, were members of the central committee of the Labor Zionist Organization of America-Poale Zion; the national executive committee of Farband-Labor Zionist Order; the national board of Pioneer Women; the central committee of Habonim; and the National Committee for Labor Israel.)