JERUSALEM (Dec. 2)
“The nation’s chosen one” was the phrase Premier Golda Meir chose to eulogize David Ben Gurion at a special mourning session of the Cabinet last night. As the ministers stood below a black-draped picture of the nation’s founder, Mrs Meir said: “If there is Justification in defining anyone during the period of renaissance of the Jewish people as the nation’s chosen one–David Ben Gurion merits such a definition….What characterized him principally was his leadership power. Thanks to this he led the Jewish people to independence. It was his capacity always to concentrate on the essence…throughout his life and activity, Ben Gurion did not deviate from his path. He knew that our strength was in deed: And that the more we succeeded in deed the greater the hope.”
Premier Meir continued: “And there was another secret he knew: We are a small people, and our capacity to withstand increases by the extent of our unity and cohesion….Only those who saw him in the grave moments, knowing the dangers, when he decided on what had to be done, can appreciate what he went through in those hours. He was not prepared to delude the people by saying that the way forward was paved, smooth and secure. He always saw the need to prepare the people for difficult and grave situations….He should naturally be viewed throughout the world as one of the greatest statesmen of his generation. If Ben Gurion was needed in past grave periods, he was all the more needed now in the fullness of his strength to lead the people–both for the struggle, and, possibly for peace….Would that every one of us may draw strength from his personality and for our activity henceforth…”
The Zionist Executive met in special session today to honor the memory of Ben Gurion. Ezra Shapiro, head of Keren Hayesod, delivered a eulogy pointing to Ben Gurion’s foresight and vision in proclaiming the State in 1948 in full confidence that its 600,000 Jews would soon grow into millions. He said Ben Gurion, together with Theodor Herzl and Chaim Weizmann, was one of the three forefathers of Zionism. The Executive members proceeded from their meeting to the Knesset where they filed past Ben Gurion’s coffin. Knesset Speaker Yisrael Yeshayahu in his tribute, termed Ben Gurion “One of the most distinguished men ever to have arisen among the Jewish people, initiator of Israel’s independence….A man of vision and of deed or clear thought and profound meditation.” In a mourning meeting of WZO and Jewish Agency employes, Jewish National Fund head Yaacov Tsur hailed Ben Gurion as the last of the giants among world statesmen who were able, through their wills alone, on behalf of their nations, change the course of history.