APRIL 1, 1955
NEW YORK—In Tel Aviv last week we arrived just in time to keep an appointment with Mr. Ben-Gurion. We were met at the door by his wife who greeted us warmly and it was a great pleasure to see the Minister of Defense himself in such good physical health and such happy spirits.
Mr. Ben-Gurion typifies, as does Mr. Baratz of Degania, the pioneer in Israel, a man who felt he must live on the soil and make things grow and be as self-sufficient as possible. It was characteristic when he said to me, "The happiest years of my life were the first years I spent in Israel in a kibbutz and the last ones I've spent in the Negev."
He lives in a new settlement not far from the Egyptian border and he says, "God made the rocks but forgot to put soil on them. Therefore, it is up to us to do it."
In his mind's eye he sees the picture of his home surrounded with flowers and fruit trees and a garden and green grass everywhere. As I left he said, "One must see the picture and then one can make it come true."
That is the kind of enthusiasm that built Israel and when one is with Mr. Ben-Gurion his personality is such a warm and compelling one and his enthusiasm so contagious that one understands why the young people responded to his call all over Israel. It is easy to see why they would leave a fairly well-established kibbutz and go to help the newcomers and to share their hardships while they build new lives for themselves.
That evening we went to a meeting for Children's Day and heard many children give excellent performances.
On Thursday morning we visited a big pumping station which, when the pipe line is completed, will send water way down into the Negev from the Tel Aviv area.
Then we stopped at Kharuvit to see a settlement of new immigrants who had been brought from North Africa and taken straight from the ship to their settlement. They have land allotted to them and while their houses are temporary they are better than the earlier ones. Each house has an outside privy and an outside shower.
The children were in school and seemed happy, and the men were working on a tree-planting project, earning enough to get the necessities for their families while they develop their own land. Later they will build their own houses, and the settlement will take on a more permanent look.
Early Thursday afternoon we reached Beersheba and here I was able to see a new city housing 20,000 people, and much new building still going on. Two factories, one a chemical plant and one a ceramics factory, are operating, and all the activities of the new city were being guided by the Czech mayor, Mr. Tovyahu, whom I had met on my last visit. He has kept up his industrious work and has developed his city and inspired his workmen. We had lunch with him in the USO building, which here is called the Soldiers' House and which has a nice middle-aged woman in charge. Mr. Baratz guides all these USO activities.
We also visited the village of Indian Jews from Cochin. They seemed happy and were working hard while they waited for the blessed water the pipe line will bring.
(Distributed by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)