SDE BOKER (Oct. 6)
The top leaders of Israel landed by helicopter today at this tiny Negev village to honor its most famous inhabitant, David Ben-Gurion, and officially begin ten weeks of celebration marking the 85th birthday of Israel’s founder and first Premier. The official party, headed by President Zalman Shazar and Premier Golda Meir. included the Cabinet and the Jewish Agency Executive. They convened in the library of the Negev Education Center which Ben-Gurion established to praise the man and his works. “We came here to greet the man without whom the State of Israel would not have come into existence.” declared President Shazar, himself 80. Mrs. Meir expressed the wish that Ben-Gurion lives to see “what we have always wanted and strived for–true peace.” She presented him with two gifts on behalf of the government–a tape recording of his proclamation of Israel’s independence in the Tel Aviv Museum on May 14. 1948 and a parchment replica of his order of the day proclaiming the Israel Defense Army.
Louis A. Pincus, chairman of the Jewish Agency, brought greetings from world Jewry and presented him with other gifts–a letter Ben-Gurion wrote more than a half century ago to the late Menabean Ussishkin expressing his desire to come to Palestine and another letter to the late Zionist leader Itzhak Grunbaum, inviting him to participate in the constituent assembly of the Jewish State. Both documents were taken from the Zionist Archives in Jerusalem. Ben-Gurion, who for this occasion abandoned his open collar for a blue suit and wore a red carnation in his lapel, appeared visibly embarrassed by the eulogies. He had only a few words of reply. “I do not agree with all of those appreciations expressed here but I am sure they were said wholeheartedly and with true belief and therefore, my thanks.” he said.