Israel Starts Independence Day Celebration; Ben-gurion Warns Nation
Menu JTA Search

Israel Starts Independence Day Celebration; Ben-gurion Warns Nation

Download PDF for this date

Calling upon the nation to “show no fear” but to indulge in “no calm, ” Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion warned here tonight, in a national radio broadcast on the eve of Israel’s celebration of its 15th anniversary, that “the utmost alertness must be maintained. ” He said that the current situation in the Middle East calls for “utmost national unity, without needless panic–but also without complacency or inaction. “

The theme was emphasized also in an Independence Day statement by Gen. Zvi Tsur, Chief of Staff of Israel’s defense forces. “We are convinced, ” said Gen. Tsur, “that the Israel army can now overpower any possible enemy. But it is possible that while the military strength of our enemies will increase, one or more of the Arab countries may believe they are stronger than Israel and start a war against Israel.”


Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to watch Israel’s official Independence Day military parade tomorrow to be held in Haifa. The official celebration of Israel’s 15th anniversary–muted with mourning for the late President Izhak Ben-Zvi, who died last Tuesday–got under way at sundown today when torches were lighted here atop Mount Herzl.

Due to the continuance of the traditional seven-day mourning period honoring the memory of Mr. Ben-Zvi, all entertainment programs previously scheduled as part of the Independence Day celebration were canceled. Rabbi Shlomo Goren, chief chaplain of Israel’s army, who had just been promoted from the rank of colonel to brigadier general, ruled today that brass bands will be permitted to play during the military parade in Haifa tomorrow, but not near the saluting stand, where the flags will fly at half-mast and the army colors will be draped in black in mourning for Mr. Ben-Zvi.

Taking the salute for the military parade will be Acting President Kadish Luz; Prime Minister Ben-Gurion; and Gen. Zvi Tsur, the army’s Chief of Staff. Among those invited to the saluting stand are Dr. Nahum Goldmann, president of the World Zionist Organization, and Dr. Vera Weizmann, widow of the late first President of Israel, Dr. Chaim Weizmann.


Today, as usual on the day preceding Independence Day, Israel observed Memorial Day for its dead who gave their lives in the War of Liberation. Torches honoring the dead were lighted throughout the country last night. At 10 o’clock this morning, wailing sirens sounded, initiating a two-minute period of silence, during which all work and traffic halted throughout the country.

Official Remembrance Day rites were held on Mount Herzl. Veterans of Haganah, the pre-State Jewish defense force of Palestine, paraded here, the salute being taken by Minister of Justice Dov Joseph and Jerusalem Mayor Mordechai Ish-Shalom. At that very moment, candles were lighted at all military cemeteries and in synagogues throughout the country, where memorial services were conducted.

Actually, some of the formalities connected with the Independence Day celebration opened on Friday. Michael Bodrov. Soviet Ambassador here and dean of the diplomatic corps, visited Acting President Kadish Luz and, on behalf of all the diplomats as well as for his Government, felicitated the temporary Chief of State and the people of Israel on the State’s 15th birthday. At the same time. Ambassador Bodrov extended the condolences of the diplomatic corps on the passing of Mr. Ben-Zvi.

A diplomatic reception in celebration of Independence Day was held in the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament. But here too the celebration was coupled with mourning, and the usual orchestral participation was omitted. Mr. Luz thanked the diplomats corps formally and concluded the ceremonies with toasts. Later, Mr. Luz received the new ambassadors from Costa Rica and the Central African Republic, who presented their letters of credence.


In an article in Maarachot, the Israeli army’s professional journal. Prime Minister Ben-Gurion spelled out today the security situation precisely. He declared that “danger to Israel will come from the South, not from the North or East. ” Thus he had warned that the real threat to Israel could come from Egypt, rather than from Syria or Jordan. “Israel, ” he stated, “is facing more trials–these will be even harder than the trials we faced during the Sinai campaign in 1956. “

In his Independence Day broadcast tonight, over Kol Israel, the government’s radio network, the Prime Minister assured the country: “Israel’s defense forces are ready and alert to repel any attack or aggression and we must all maintain the same alertness. “

Reviewing the State’s achievements since its rebirth in 1948, the Prime Minister said: “As a people attacked by its neighbors in the very day of the State’s rebirth, Israel is entitled to view with no little satisfaction the ground we have covered in the brief period since Statehood was proclaimed. Under conditions of beleaguerment along all of our borders, and under constant threat of destruction, we have brought into our land more than 1,000,000 immigrants, built more than 550 urban and rural settlements, tripled our population, increased industrial output sevenfold and exports tenfold.

On the negative side of the ledger, the Prime Minister listed: An adverse balance of trade; the need for greater productivity; and the disturbing educational gap between children of European origin and those from Asian or Africin origin.”

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund