Jewish Leaders Express Grief; Memorial Meeting Scheduled Tuesday in N.Y.
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Jewish Leaders Express Grief; Memorial Meeting Scheduled Tuesday in N.Y.

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Messages of grief and sorrow were sent to Israel today by Jewish leaders in this country. Paul Zuckerman, general chairman of the United Jewish Appeal, stated: "The news of the death of the architect of the State of Israel brings grief to the American Jewish community, as it does to the people of Israel. It is doubly sad, coming at a time when we already joined with our brethren in Israel in mourning the loss of those who fell in the Yom Kippur War. David Ben Gurion’s life should stand–especially at this critical moment in history–as a beacon of inspiration to us all. It was a life of dedication and determination. Ben Gurion strove long and hard for the realization of a dream of a lifetime, presided over the formation and early perilous years of the Third Jewish Commonwealth and lived to see it grow as a home and haven for Jews seeking lives of freedom. As we mourn our loss, the leadership and staff of the United Jewish Appeal rededicates itself to the continuing fulfillment of Ben Gurion’s vision to build in the promised land a land of promise for those oppressed and in need."

Announcing that the official memorial service in honor of Ben Gurion will be held Tuesday afternoon at 4 p.m. in the fifth Avenue Synagogue, Mrs. Charlotte Jacobson, chairman of the World Zionist Organization-American Section, said: "There is no doubt that Ben Gurion will assume the leading role in modern Jewish history, a unique example of prophet and visionary who lived to see the fulfillment of his dream." She added that he "must have died in the sad knowledge that Israel had not yet attained the peace with its Arab neighbors for which he had strived during his entire career." Addressing the memorial meeting will be Rabbi Israel Miller, president of the American Zionist Federation, Dr. Emanuel Neumann, former member of the Jewish Agency and the WZO Executive, Dr. Judah J. Shapiro, chairman of the Labor Zionist Alliance, and Ambassador David Rivlin, Consul General of Israel. Mrs. Jacobson will chair the memorial meeting.

Dr. Shapiro, also president of the National Committee for Labor Israel, said Ben Gurion’s "paramount role in the realization of the State of Israel in the historic Jewish homeland, his creation of Histadrut as a unifying force of Israel’s pioneering vanguard and cooperative society, his prophetic genius which helped shape a democratic nation based on social Justice for Jew and Arab alike, assures him of a distinguished place in the annals of mankind and eternal remembrance in our hearts." Rabbi Miller said: "David Ben Gurion has earned an enduring place of honor in Jewish history. He was the man of action, thought and feeling whose inspired and courageous leadership made him a prime mover in the establishment of the State of Israel. The Zionist movement nurtured this man of vision and strength, and the American Zionist Federation mourns this loss together with the entire family of Israel."

Dr. Nahum Goldmann, president of the World Jewish Congress, sent a telegram to Amos Ben Gurion, son of David Ben Gurion, at Sde Boker: "Your father was the most influential, most authoritative and most creative leader of our generation. He not only was decisive in creating the State but succeeded as very few other historical personalities to shape the image of the State and mold the thinking and psychology of the people of Israel. For me personally in decades of close cooperation, in periods of full agreement…but also in times of disagreement, he was one of the essential factors in my public life. He will rank forever among the great figures in the pantheon of Jewish history."


In Washington, President Nixon mourned David Ben Gurion’s death and praised him as a man who worked with courage, love and determination to establish the modern State of Israel. Nixon said that the example of the Israeli statesman increased his conviction that the cause of justice and peace will triumph in the Middle East. "The people of America join with the people of Israel in mourning the passing of a gallant man. As we shared his ideals and hopes, not only for Israel but for all mankind, so we share in their loss," Nixon wrote in a message to Israeli President Ephraim Katzir.

In Paris, President Georges Pompidou expressed his "sincere condolences" to Katzir, and said: "The disappearance of Ben Gurion marks the loss of a man who beyond political positions of governments, sharply marked the destiny of your country." He also recalled the "great mutual admiration and consideration" that existed between Gen. Charles de Gaulle and the former Israeli Premier. Canada’s Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau wrote to Mrs. Meir that Ben Gurion’s "courageous and untiring efforts in bringing to fulfillment the vision of a modern State of Israel will not be forgotten. I know I speak for all Canadians in wishing to share with you the grief of this great loss to Israel and the world." A brief message of "deepest sympathy" was also sent by Britain’s Premier Edward Heath.

Rep. Ogden Reid (R.N.Y.). who was former U.S. Ambassador to Israel, recalled Ben Gurion as a book-loving family man, a serious and persistent scholar and as a dynamic and insightful national leader. He recalled, too, Ben Gurion’s devotion and love for his wife, Paula, who died in 1968 and left the "old man" heartbroken. In his statement to Mrs. Meir, Reid said Ben Gurion "will continue as an inspiration and as a light unto nations as his beloved Isaiah. His loss is a great one to the entire world. His major role in the founding and strengthening of Israel places him among the most Important leaders of all time. He now belongs to generations."

Jacob Katzman, executive vice-president-of the Labor Zionist Alliance, said of Ben Gurion, who was a lifelong Labor Zionist, that "a giant has fallen, the likes of which it is not given to every generation to have in its midst. We of the Labor Zionist Alliance will also remember the special bond that always existed between him and our movement in America." Mrs. Rose E. Matzkin, president of Hadassah, declared: "He had the heart of a lion and responded to the extraordinary needs of the time with the character of a prophet. This generation shall ever be honored for having known David Ben Gurion." B’nai B’rith, in Washington, described Ben Gurion as the man "who took a dream and made it a reality and by the force of his perseverance and personality profoundly changed the course of Jewish history. He was a modern-day prophet." gathering of the exiles into a socialist Jewish state….The ingathering of the exiles into a socialist Jewish state is in fact only a precondition for the fulfillment of the real mission of our people. We must first break the constricting chains of national and class oppression and become free men, enjoying complete individual and national independence on the soil of a redeemed homeland. After that we can address ourselves to the great mission of man on this earth–to master the forces of nature and to develop his unique creative genius to the highest degree." ("The Imperatives of the Jewish Revolution")

"The principal overseas Jewish community of our days are the Jews of the United States, and the bulk of them do not consider that they are living in exile; America is their home and they have no intention of leaving it. That is their right, and it has by no means reduced their will to help Israel in every way they are able. But American Jews who call themselves Zionists feel the same way, namely, that they have no desire to leave America and emigrate to Israel. And here I say that it is absurd of them to retain the term ‘Zionist’ when they show that they do not personally accept the ideological and practical content of Zionism….

"I must make clear that the assistance given to Israel by overseas Zionists have been massive But it must also be clear that the part played by the man who lives in Israel, bears its burdens, defends it in time of need, works, builds and maintains it day by day is of a different order from the part played by the well-intentioned Jew who lives in the diaspora, who loves Israel from afar, and contributes to its assistance some of his time, money, oratorical talents and political influence.

"That is why I was so insistent when I was Prime Minister in exposing what I consider to be an act of distortion when a movement claiming to be Zionist erases from its teaching the major principle of Zionism–immigration–even though it assists the State of Israel. I should like young Jews everywhere to look to Israel for the true meaning of Zionism rather than to their local Zionist leaders." (Ben Gurion Looks Back….)

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