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Ben-Gurion tries to lessen the power of religious parties in Israel’s government
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I am pleased that our State is a secular state and not under a religious regime.… I do not object to the spreading of religion in the way it is done in all democratic states through synagogues, Yeshivas and youth movements…

DAVID BEN-GURION. Autograph Letter Signed as Minister of Defense, in Hebrew, 1p., 5½ x 8 in. Sdeh Boker [Israel], May 5, 1954. To Dr. Ben-Zion Ben Shalom. Fine condition.

Inventory #22765       Price: $3,600

Translation

I am pleased that our State is a secular state and not under a religious regime. Unluckily, religion has not yet left politics since the religious parties acted during the Congresses prior to the establishment of the State. I do not object to the spreading of religion in the way it is done in all democratic states through synagogues, Yeshivas and youth movements – and that the religious will join and prove their persuasive ability in the leading parties. This will happen only if the State introduces the regional voting system instead of the current proportional system.

Historic Background

Ben-Gurion headed Mapai, a workers’ party, since it was established in 1930. In 1954, according to Knesset.gov.il, “In an attempt to stabilize the political system, Ben Gurion proposed a new electoral system that would replace direct proportional elections with regional… it failed to pass in the Knesset, as most parties feared it will benefit mostly Mapai…”

Dr. Ben-Zion Ben Shalom (1907-1968) was Director of the Jewish Agency’s Youth and Hechalutz Department formed in the 1880s as an unofficial international association of Jewish youth whose aim was to train its members to make Aliyah.

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 Mapai political party in the Knesset. He resigned in December 1953, effective January 26, 1954, then resumed office in November 1955 and served as Israeli Prime Minster until 1963. He then moved to Sde Boker, a kibbutz in the Negev desert, where he lived until his death.


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