TEL AVIV (Jan. 18)
Former Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion reacted angrily today to criticism in Government circles and in the press of the private correspondence he conducted in December with President de Gaulle of France. In a letter published in the daily Haaretz, Mr. Ben-Gurion declared “this is a free country and I can write to whomever I want and whatever I think is right.”
Mr. Ben-Gurion, who had long maintained friendly contacts with de Gaulle, wrote to him on Dec. 6 to express his dismay over de Gaulle’s Nov. 27 press conference statements castigating the Jewish people and the state of Israel. De Gaulle replied on Dec. 31 that he had not intended to disparage the Jews when he characterized them as “an elite people, self assured and domineering.” But he still maintained that Israel had started last June’s war against the advice of France. The exchange of letters was made public by Mr. Ben-Gurion here last week and, simultaneously, by the French Government in Paris. The former Israel Prime Minister was criticized by Foreign Minister Eban and by various newspapers for conducting private correspondence with a foreign chief of state on a matter as grave as de Gaulle’s denunciation of Israel.
Mr. Ben-Gurion replied, in his letter in Haaretz that he did not need the Foreign Office’s advise on whom to write to and what to write. “We do not live – in any case up to now and I hope in the future as well – under a dictatorial Communist or Fascist regime and any citizen can write and talk as he pleases without censorship,” Ben-Gurion wrote.