The Making of the Ideals That Rule Israel:
The Faith of Labor's Founding Fathers
Whenever Prime Minister David Ben Gurion made a characteristically impulsive statement that embarrassed Israeli relations with American Zionists or non-Zionists, or drew fire from Mapam snipers in the Histadrut, Israeli Laborites used to tell you: “Berl alone could have restrained him, because not even he dared dispute Berl’s authority too often.” And Ben Gurion himself may have missed Berl’s advice as he weighed his decision to retire from the tumult of politics to the austere calm of Sdeh Boker.
From the very first, Ben Gurion made his name among Palestine’s Labor Zionists as a vigorous organizer, hard bargainer, aggressive polemicist, and resolute politician. But he had his peers in these respects. What marked him out was that he was a bit more single-minded and opinionated than the others. He was less well known abroad than some among his rivals, but he had, and still has, an uncanny instinct for grass-roots feeling at home. In the old days it wasn’t generally known that he read Greek, nor had he yet begun to challenge rabbis with quotations from the Sacred Books or hand out advice to writers and painters. At that time, between the early 1920′s and the end of the Hitler war, labor in Palestine had only one intellectual leader and spiritual counsellor, and he was Berl Katznelson.
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