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Ben Gurion Addresses Convention of General Zionists in Israel

June 26, 1957
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The 21st national convention of the centrist General Zionist Party of Israel opened here today with 600 delegates and hundreds of guests in attendance. The parley heard a short, non-political speech by Premier David Ben Gurion.

The Premier devoted his address to “Messianic vision,” by which he said he meant the same thing which Jews abroad mean when they refer to themselves as Zionists. He asserted that since the Jewish State was established a definition of Zionism had perplexed the Jews. There cannot be Zionism without immigration to Israel, he continued, but since “nobody can deny the right of any Jew in the Diaspora to call himself a Zionist,” he prefers the term “Messianic vision” as a description of this form of Zionism.

Dr. Peretz Bernstein, leader of the General Zionist Party, in his opening remarks hammered away at the domestic and foreign policy of the Mapai, the leading party in the government coalition. He charged that party politics in the settlements, public services and the civil service deters Jews from settling in Israel.

Referring to the country’s security situation, Dr. Bernstein insisted that because of Israel’s small area and geographic structure an “active defense” is unavoidable. “We cannot take a chance on being attacked first. Foreign help–even if secured–would come too late,” he warned. In the “verbal struggle” between Israel and the Arab states Dr. Bernstein recommended restraint of language.

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