Ben-Gurion, David

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Ben-Gurion, David



Autograph letter signed



Autograph letter signed, four pages, 5 x 8,5 inch, 27.01.1961, in Hebrew, important letter to Moshe Sharett, who had served as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Prime Minister of Israel, marked `Personal and Secret` - concerning the conclusion of the ‘Lavon Affair’, written and signed in blue ballpoint ink "Jean", with a rusty paperclip mark to the top of the first page - in fine to very fine condition. Translated: "Your words of 1.27.61 just now reached me. I don’t have a shadow of a doubt that what your are saying—you are saying it truthfully and without any tendentiousness and for the benefit of the State and the Movement as it seems to you. Unfortunately, I cannot agree with you, even though I, like you, will avoid anything that will bring about the dissolution of the Party and the collapse of the State’s institutions. I will perhaps finish my vacation in ten days, but on my return I will submit my resignation from this Government. I am saying this only to you, and I trust you that nothing will be `leaked,` as when I told the Government after the conclusions of the Committee of Seven were approved, and they granted me six weeks` vacation. I will resign from the Government, for there is here a matter of collective responsibility, and I cannot bear this responsibility after this Government, with evil intention, committed, according to my feeling and best knowledge, an act that should not have been done: it turned itself into a judicial authority and violated one of the foundations of a democratic state, in which there is total separation between the executive authority and the judiciary, and it confirmed the conclusions that included distortion of justice, half-truths, and injustice screaming heavenward. From this report, you will not be able to see the cover-up the castration of truth, and the distortion of justice. In any case, I will not have a share in this responsibility, which includes shaking the moral foundation of our very existence. It became clear to me (and I know well that I am as capable of erring as any mortal. So are others, even if they are Seven) beyond any shade of doubt, that the secretary of the Histadrut [Pinhas Lavon] is a person of intrigues and deceit. It is possible to accuse me that this became clear to me belatedly, and Shaul blames me that he had already warned me about this fellow seven years ago, but what am I to do, if until the beginning of October, or more accurately—until I heard about Lavon in the last days of September—I continued defending him—indeed, they might blame his rival in this controversy—Benjamin Gibli, and I refused to rehabilitate him, because the rehabilitation would mean the accusation of Gibli. I know that Gibli is perceived now as a notorious criminal, and perhaps he is like one (I am not yet sure about that). As Minister of Defense, I did all that I could to bring even him to a trial and remove him from the army—out of a doubt founded more or less. However, I do not have any doubt about Lavon. He is a dangerous intriguer, and we are abusing the most precious thing in the country (except the State itself) if we let him continue at the head of the Histadrut. However, that is not my business as Prime Minister or as leader of the Society. I am just one out of hundreds of thousands of members, and as one member, I will do my duty for Histadrut and defend its honor, but I will not pressure, and I do not have any means of pressure, and even if I had, I would not use them; I have never used such means, no matter what the `Humanists` claim. I would say: `A person like me will not be frightened`—even were I much humbler than I am, although I do not pretend be a humble man. However, I will not give a hand—even in a passive manner—to the terrible moral error that most of the Government’s members committed (out of good intentions). I believe in the Truth—and it will appear! Excuses from the Humanists and students will not silence it. The revealing of the truth—if indeed the truth is as I see it—will not bring about the dissolution of the Party, but rather the opposite. I was embarrassed this week to see how this fellow maltreats the Party, and how the Party Members were embarrassed and frightened. I don`t have in my heart any confusion or fear, and will be ready, if it is imposed on me, to establish a new government, but with my complete freedom to fight to discover the truth. By the way, I did not apologize before the Government, and I did not have any reason to do so. I repeated in my letter what I had said to the press in the announcements of 1.13.61 (it seems to me) and in my article: ‘Truth is Above Anything Else.’ Since then there have been revealed to me additional facts and details, which fill me with shame seeing this fellow as the leader of the Haze (a notorious weekly), etc., etc., and the confusion of our members. I believe in the power of truth—it is stronger than all, and it will purify the atmosphere and add respect for the Party and will strengthen the State. But this war I shall conduct when I resign from the Government. I have announced in clear words my resignation in that session in which were also announced the conclusions of the Committee of Seven, and then I said that two things make obligatory the postponement of my resignation. One of these has already passed—the `Zionist` Congress—and the second, I have a basis to assume that it too will pass, and then I will be free to submit my resignation. It does not depend on Lavon`s position; even if Lavon resigns or is fired tomorrow, I will submit my resignation, for I will not bear the responsibility of the terrible error that the Government has committed, and not even one moment have I tied my stay in the Government or my leaving it to the position of Lavon—but rather to the deed of the Government Member, for which I cannot bear responsibility."

Additional Information

SKU 6021448
Profession first Prime Minister of Israel
Year of birth 1886
year of death 1973
Size in inch (1 inch = 2.5 cm) 5 x 8,5
Condition fine to very fine
Type of Autograph letters
Expert comment The `Lavon Affair` was a botched 1954 Israeli espionage operation conducted in Egypt; in consequence of its failure, Defense Minister Pinhas Lavon had been forced to resign in 1955. New testimony came to light in 1960, and a ‘Commission of Seven’ established to investigate the affair found that Lavon was not guilty of wrongdoing. Prime Minister Ben-Gurion was outraged at this outcome, questioning the legality and objectivity of the new inquiry. On January 31, 1961, four days after he wrote this letter, Ben-Gurion resigned from his high office. Echoing what he says here to Sharett, Prime Minister Ben-Gurion wrote in his resignation letter: `My understanding of my obligations forbid me to bear responsibility for the Cabinet decision on December 25 [the decision to accept the report that exonerated Lavon], as this would be incompatible with fundamental principles of justice and the basic laws of the State.` The central committee of Ben-Gurion’s Mapai Party immediately begged him to reconsider, and promptly expelled Lavon as a member of the group and as secretary-general of the Histadrut. New elections were held in August 1961, with Maipai winning 42 seats and Ben-Gurion returning as prime minister. Despite this reaffirmation of his political power, Ben-Gurion’s popularity was severely reduced and he never completely recovered from the Lavon Affair.