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David Ben-Gurion:
Broadcast to the Nation after the Arab Invasion

(May 15, 1948)


Ben-Gurion: Table of Contents | Biography | Select Quotations


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The Arab invasion had begun and Israel had already lodged a complaint with the Security Council when David Ben-Gurion made this broadcast to the nation.

Something unique occurred yesterday in Israel, and only future generations will be able to evaluate the full historical significance of the event. It is now up to all of us, acting out of a sense of Jewish fraternity, to devote every ounce of our strength to building and defending the State of Israel, which still faces a titanic political and military struggle.

Now is not the time for boasting. Whatever we have achieved is the result of the efforts of earlier generations no less than those of our own. It is also the result of an unwavering fidelity to our precious heritage, the heritage of a small nation that has suffered much, but at the same time has won for itself a special place in the history of mankind because of its spirit, faith, and vision.

At this moment let us remember with love and appreciation the three generations of pioneers and defenders who paved the way for later achievements, the men who created Mikve Israel, Petah Tikva, Rishon LeZion, Zikhron Yacov, and Rosh Pina, as well as those who recently established settlements in the Negev desert and the Galilee hills; the founders of Hashomer and the Jewish Legion, as well as the men who are now locked in fierce battle from Dan to Beersheba. Many of these about whom I have spoken are no longer among the living, but their memory remains forever in our hearts and in the heart of the Jewish people.

I will mention only one great person of those who are still among us. Whether or not he holds an official position, and whether or not we agree with his ideas, he remains our leading figure; there is no other single person who has contributed so much to the political and settlement achievements of the Zionist movement. I refer, of course, to Dr. Chaim Weizmann.

The State of Israel was established yesterday and its Provisional Government has already turned to the nations of the world, great and small, in the East and in the West, announcing its existence and its desire to co-operate with the United Nations in the interests of international peace and progress. We have received unofficial reports that several countries have recognised the State of Israel. The first official recognition came from the government of the United States of America. We hope that other nations in the East and in the West soon will follow suit. We are in contact in this matter with all members of the United Nations and with the United Nations itself.

But we should not deceive ourselves by thinking that formal diplomatic recognition will solve all our problems. We have a long thorny path ahead of us. The day after the State of Israel was established, Tel Aviv was bombed by Egyptian planes. Our gunners brought down one of the planes. Its pilot was taken prisoner, and the plane added to our fledgling Air Force. We have also received reports that our country is being invaded from the north, east, and south by the regular armies of the neighbouring Arab States. We face a troubled and dangerous time. The Provisional Government has already complained to the Security Council about the aggression committed by members of the United Nations, and by Britain's ally, Trans-Jordan. It is inconceivable that the Security Council will ignore these wanton acts, which violate the peace, international law, and UN decisions. But we must never forget that our security ultimately depends on our own might.

It is the responsibility of each one of us, and of every municipal body, to take appropriate defensive measures, such as constructing air raid shelters, digging trenches, etc. We must concentrate in particular on building up a military striking force capable of repulsing and destroying enemy forces wherever they may be found.

Finally, we must prepare to receive our brethren from the far-flung corners of the Diaspora; from the camps of Cyprus, Germany, and Austria, as well as from all the other lands where the message of liberation has arrived. We will receive them with open arms and help them to strike roots here in the soil of the Homeland. The State of Israel calls on everyone to faithfully fulfil his duties in defence, construction, and immigrant absorption. Only in this way can we prove ourselves worthy of the hour.


Sources: Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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