Condemning the Fear of Having Independence Day Parade in Jerusalem
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“the fear of having the parade in Jerusalem, when it is Jerusalem’s turn to hold the parade, constitutes an affront to the dignity of our sovereignty, the dignity of Jerusalem and the dignity of the Government.” DAVID BEN-GURION.
Autograph Letter Signed, to the Minister of Religions, Zerach Warhaftig, March 20, 1965. 8¼ x 4 7
Sde Boker 20.3.65 [March 20, 1965]
To Government member Zerach Warhaftig
I have received your response dated March 15 1965. Unfortunately I had to respond to an answer which had been sent to me by [another] Government minister, and I read [your response] at home only this evening. Before [your response reached me, in view of the content [of the answer], I did not want to receive it and to argue with its author. With you, however, I can allow myself to argue. If you insist on relying on the answer which was given by the Prime Minister - and I read that answer from the stenographic record and not from the copy - that was an answer which skirted the truth. It was customary for the parade to take place in a different major city each year. This year was Jerusalem’s turn. No one ever claimed that the parade establishes Jerusalem’s status as the capital of the State - but the fear of having the parade in Jerusalem, when it is Jerusalem’s turn to hold the parade, constitutes an affront to the dignity of our sovereignty, the dignity of Jerusalem and the dignity of the Government. Is it not true that the parades were once held Jerusalem on a ‘regular’ basis -if it was true, then why was the ostensibly ‘regular’ parade canceled? Perhaps not even you were told the truth as to why the Parade was taken out of Jerusalem. The truth was certainly concealed from the Knesset. Moreover, this desertion does not show respect to either the State or Jerusalem and constitutes a dangerous an unfair precedent. This desertion did not take place because of the ‘law’.
David Ben-Gurion (October 16, 1886 – December 1, 1973) Became the first prime minister of Israel on May 14, 1948 when he proclaimed the birth of the independent State of Israel. Prior to 1948, he had been a leader in the pioneering Labor movement and had headed the struggle for Jewish independence in Palestine. Ben-Gurion resigned from the government in 1953, only to be recalled to serve as defense minister in 1955. By the end of 1955 he was once again serving as prime minister while maintaining his position in the defense ministry. His ideology was staunchly democratic, and he was an ardent Zionist who believed the Zionist dream of an independent Jewish homeland could be fulfilled only through the presence of Jews in Israel.
Beginning in 1948, the national holiday of Yom Ha’tzmaut, commemorating the date that Ben-Gurion publicly read the proclamation that established the state of Israel (May 14) was celebrated with the Israel Defense Forces parade. This procession, which showcased Israel’s military might, was hosted by a different Israeli city until 1973. In 1950, 1951, 1958, and 1961 the parade was held in Jerusalem. But on May 7, 1965 (5th day of Iyar 5725), the year of this letter, the parade celebrating 17 years of independence was held in Tel Aviv. The letter discusses Ben-Gurion’s serious dissatisfaction with the Parade being moved for, as he described it, “fears” which lead to “an affront to our sovereignty…” The whole letter establishes the Prime Minister’s strong opinion that the Jewish people continue to have the parade in Jerusalem, regardless of any worries that may persist.
Rabbi Dr. Zerach Warhaftig (February 2, 1906 – September 26, 2002) was a lawyer and served in Knesset from 1951-1981, including several stints as Deputy Minister of Religions under Ben-Gurion’s coalition. He was a signer of Israel’s Declaration of Independence, taught Jewish law at Hebrew University until 1964, and authored a number of legal works.
On lined paper perforated along the right edge. Folded with several small chips and tears in the top margin. Part of lower right corner is missing and may affect a few words; otherwise fine.