ISRAEL: The Watchman

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In a ground floor study, its windows bricked up against air raids, Ben-Gurion recently sat and answered a reporter's questions with terse frankness.

"Can you conquer the Arabs?"

"Against the Arabs we are one against 40."

"Won't Israel grow?"

"There are eleven million Jews in the world. I don't say that all of them will come here, but I expect several million, and with natural increase I can quite imagine a Jewish state of ten million."

"Can that many be accommodated within the U.N. partition boundaries of Israel?"

"I doubt it."

Then Ben-Gurion dropped his matter-of-fact manner. The labor politician was replaced by the prophet. A dreamer's stare veiled his blue eyes. The room was small but his voice throbbed loudly, as if speaking to multitudes against the winds on Mount Carmel.

"We would not have taken on this war merely for the purpose of enjoying this tiny state. There have been only two great peoples: the Greeks and the Jews. Perhaps the Greeks were even greater than the Jews, but now I can see no sign of that old greatness in the modern Greeks. Maybe, when the present process is finished we too will degenerate, but I see no sign of degeneration at present."

His voice took on a deeper tone:

"Suffering makes a people greater, and we have suffered much. We had a message to give the world, but we were overwhelmed, and the message was cut off in the middle. In time there will be millions of us—becoming stronger and stronger—and we will complete the message."

"What is the message?" the reporter asked.

"Our policy must be the unity of the human race. The world is divided into two blocs. We consider that the United Nations' ideal is a Jewish ideal."

At that point, Ben-Gurion descended from Mount Carmel. "Perhaps," he said apologetically, "this may sound rather chauvinistic."

Helpful Push. In less exalted moods, Ben-Gurion goes quietly and industriously about his work of running Israel. His work day of twelve hours is broken by a frugal lunch at a small hotel with other government workers. Colleagues call him by his surname or, occasionally, E.G. During the fighting he slept at a boarding house near his office. Nowadays, he goes home to his wife, a nurse from Minsk whom he met and married in Brooklyn. Ben-Gurion has no close personal friends, but he is widely respected for his ability and his unassuming simplicity. Last week, on a road near Tel Aviv, a truck ground to a stop and the driver signaled for help. Ben-Gurion and a young aide happened to be in a car behind. The 63-year-old Premier of Israel got out and helped push the truck while his young companion stood guard with a rifle to keep down possible Arab snipers.

His son Amos, who was a major in the British Army, later a Haganah fighter, recently married a British Christian. Ben-Gurion did not hold her faith against her; he gathered up an armload of Jewish histories and Zionist tracts, mailed them to her so that she would understand her adopted country.

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