ISRAEL: The Watchman

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The Jews beat the Arabs.

Out of the concentration camps, ghettoes, banks, courtrooms, theaters and factories of Europe the Chosen People had assembled and had won their first great military victory since Judas Maccabeus* beat the Syrian Nicanor at Adasa 2,109 years ago.

Their success has been hidden from the world by U.N. maneuvering and by a confusing war of a hundred skirmishes with real battles. Although, in years to come, fighting might break out again & again, its probable pattern was "fixed: the Jews were too tough, too smart and too vigorous for the divided and debilitated Arab world to conquer.

As the U.N. truce settled on Palestine last week it seemed probable that the new state of Israel, already recognized by 15 nations, would seek and get U.N. membership at next fall's meeting in Paris. It was time to stop pondering the settled question of whether there would be a Jewish state, time, to start asking what kind of nation Israel was.

The world—every corner of it—knew Jews, but the Israelis were not the Jews most of the world knew. Two millenniums of sorrow and insecurity in a hostile world had put their stamp on the character of this people. In Israel, a few years of struggle to build a state, a few months at the center of the world stage, a few weeks of battle had superimposed another, bolder stamp. That the Israelis' Dry had come just after the worst of thousand persecutions, that it had been by those who survived the slaughter of 6,000,000, made the newly minted Jewish character gleam brighter.

Political Bends. The new Israelis walked with a confident swagger along beach front at Tel Aviv. They talked confidently—indeed, stridently—of a state of ten million, not necessarily confined to the present boundaries of Israel. It was a bad joke, and also a sober observation, that the idea of Drang nach Osten lived in the new nation of Hitler's victims. As they looked around them at a disorganized and unproductive Arab world, Israelis showed some of the reactions of the prewar Germans looking around a disorganized and unproductive Europe.

Jewish traditions of peace and democracy run deep, but the Israelis had been transferred so quickly from the depths of Europe to the heights of superiority in the Middle East that they could not escape the political equivalent of deep-sea divers' bends. The new blood of nationalism ran fast and hot in Israel; sometimes it seemed to be gushing out on the ground. Pleading for more understanding and tolerance of Israel, one sympathetic observer warned: "This could become an ugly little Spartan state."

Israel's present leaders are determined that their nation will not take that path. Foremost and most determined among them is David Ben-Gurion, Premier and Defense Minister, labor leader and philosopher, hardheaded, unsociable and abrupt politician, a prophet who carries a gun.

Mystical Ends. Ben-Gurion lives on a typical Tel Aviv boulevard, in a two-story stucco house, distinguished from its neighbors only by the soldiers with Sten guns at the entrance. In his library about a third of the books are on military history and tactics; next in number are books about Greek philosophy and Buddha, his current study. (Zionists all over the world scout up rare Buddhist books for Ben-Gurion.)

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