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Ben-Gurion on Defending Israel: “In the name of life and peace - we will defend our State”
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DAVID BEN-GURION. Typed Letter Signed in Hebrew, as Prime Minister of Israel, to Shlomo Lavi, April 20, 1956. 6 x 8 in. 1 p.

Inventory #24758       Price: $2,800


Jerusalem, 1 Iyar 5716

April 20, 1956

Shlomo Lavi,

Kibbutz Ein-Harod.


We must view with open eyes - the danger of war, even if our life is primarily tied to peace. We shall not hesitate to destroy communities and to waste [expend?] enormous resources if the defenses of the State and its citizens will so require. Who like you knows that war destroys - the most precious of all life - humankind. We therefore will not spare anything, not because we look to the vision of peace, but to the contrary, because we are faithful to it unto death. In the name of life and peace - we will defend our State, and I believe that in the end we shall be victorious.

Yours in friendship,

David ben-Gurion

Prime Minister and Minister of Defense.

Cc: / Moshe Sharett / Foreign Minister.

Historical Background

David Ben-Gurion, Prime Minister of Israel for most of the first quarter-century of its existence, writes to Shlomo Lavi, a leader in his own right, about his commitment to maintain the Jewish state.  Both men were born in Russian Poland and together with another friend formed a youth club called Ezra that promoted Hebrew studies. Both immigrated to Palestine. Ben-Gurion became the leader of the Jewish Agency, and Lavi became a labor leader. In 1921, Lavi helped establish the first, Kibbutz Ein Harod, where he lived for the rest of his life.

Deemed by Time magazine to be one of the hundred most important people of the twentieth century, Ben-Gurion devoted his life to the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine.  His letter to Shlomo Lavi speaks to the essence of his beliefs, the dangers and destruction of war, through the eyes of one defending his home at any cost: “We therefore will not spare anything...we are faithful to it unto death.” During Ben-Gurion’s tenure as prime minister, more than one million Jews from all over the world relocated to Israel.

David Ben-Gurion (1886-1973) was born in the Kingdom of Poland, then part of the Russian Empire, as David Grün, and he studied at the University of Warsaw. In 1906, he immigrated to Palestine, which was part of the Ottoman Empire. In 1912, he moved to Constantinople to study law and adopted the Hebrew name Ben-Gurion. He supported the Ottoman Empire in World War I, but was deported to Egypt and traveled to the United States, where he remained for three years. After the Balfour Declaration of 1917, he joined the Jewish Legion of the British Army. He returned to Palestine after the war and became a leader of the Zionist movement. As head of the Jewish Agency from 1935, Ben-Gurion was effectively the leader of the Jewish population before there was a nation. He accepted the 1947 partition plan as a compromise that would establish a Jewish state, and declared the independence of the state of Israel in May 1948. After leading Israel during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, Ben-Gurion won election as Prime Minister of Israel in 1948 as head of the Labour party in the Knesset. Except for nearly two years in the mid-1950s, Ben-Gurion served as Israeli Prime Minster until 1963.

Shlomo Lavi (1882-1963) was born in the Kingdom of Poland, then part of the Russian Empire, as Shlomo Levkovich. He received a religious education and early worked with David Grün (later Ben-Gurion) as part of the Ezra youth movement that taught Hebrew to poor and orphaned children. Lavi immigrated to Palestine in 1905, then controlled by the Ottoman Empire. He was a founder and dedicated member of the Zionist Labour movement. He originated the idea of the kibbutz communal settlement to accommodate Jewish immigrants from the former Russian Empire in the wake of World War I. Both of his sons and his brother were killed during Israel’s War of Independence in 1948. He served in the first and second knessets from 1949 to 1955.


Two punch holes located to right margin, expected folds, light toning, else near fine.

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