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Father Figure

Shimon Peres, Israel’s president, has written a new Nextbook Press biography of David Ben-Gurion, its first prime minster and his mentor

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Shimon Peres in his Tel Aviv office, with a portrait of David Ben-Gurion behind him, June 1981.(Associated Press)

In 1900, a 14-year-old Jewish boy in Poland named David Gruen founded a Zionist youth group. He made his way to Palestine when he was 20, where he eventually changed his last name to Ben-Gurion. He went on to become a founding father of Israel and its first prime minister. One of Ben-Gurion’s key aides in founding the Jewish state was Shimon Peres, now the country’s president. Thirty-seven years younger than his hero, Peres similarly emigrated from Poland to Palestine and similarly served as Israel’s prime minister. Peres won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994, along with Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat, for his efforts in the talks that led to the Oslo Accords.

With the help of journalist David Landau, Peres has written a new biography of Ben-Gurion, his mentor: Ben-Gurion: A Political Life, available now from Nextbook Press. Landau, a former editor of Haaretz and Israel correspondent of The Economist, spoke to Vox Tablet host Sara Ivry about Ben-Gurion, his realpolitik approach to leadership, and what lessons his example can provide to Israel’s leaders today. [Running time: 30:09.] 

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Ephraim says:

Perhaps it is because I am not Israeli, but I simply cannot fathom why Peres seems to still be held in such high esteem by mnany otherwise seemingly intelligent people. He is one of the main architects of the Madrid/Oslo “Peace Process” that has proven to be such a disaster for Israel and which has cost so many lives.

I do not understand why he can still show his face in public. The very least he could do is apologize to the families of those who were killed because of his naivete (if that’s what it was) about Arafat and his gang. A blind yearning for peace no matter what the cost is excusable in a person like me, whose actions affect no one but myself, but it is an inexcusable failing in the leader of a country upon whose actions so many lives depend.

That goes for Ehuds Barak and Olmert, too.

Steve G says:

Really thought provoking interview, articulate descriptions of the Zionist debates by David Landau. In arguments between purists and compromisers, I’m drawn to the compromisers who get stuff done over the purists who (often) don’t.

Landau often uses the word Zionist when what he is really referring to is the left-wing socialist zionists. This distorts history and supports the narrow vision of those on the left.

For instance, even in what this interview covers,there is the failure to see the significant role that groups like Irgun and others played. While Ben-Gurion was sitting out WWI in the US, Begin and others in the Revisionist Zionist movement where assisting, albeit in minor roles that was all that they were allowed, the British in ousting the Ottoman troops from what would become Israel. In this continued in later events.

It is only with the hindsight of Ben-Gurion becoming Prime Minister that his actions and those of his supporters are priviliged as the most important, and that of their political opponents denigrated or left out.

Patricia Golan says:

Please convery to David Landau that the interview with him was fascinating and a pleasure to listen to.

“In this continued in later events.”

Should have read –

And this one-sided distortion of history continued in descriptions of later events.

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Father Figure

Shimon Peres, Israel’s president, has written a new Nextbook Press biography of David Ben-Gurion, its first prime minster and his mentor

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