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March 29, 2022 3:40 pm

New York Times Uses Israel-Arab Summit to Claim Ben-Gurion ‘Never Believed in Real Peace’

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avatar by Ira Stoll


Israel’s first prime minister David Ben Gurion. Photo: Wiki Commons.

The New York Times concludes a news article on an Israeli-Arab summit with the absurd claim that Israeli founding father David Ben-Gurion didn’t believe in peace.

The summit was held at Sde Boker, the site in the Negev that was Ben-Gurion’s final home. The Times reports:

[I]f he were alive today, “no one would be more stunned than Ben-Gurion himself” to see the summit, said Tom Segev, an Israeli historian and biographer of the Israeli leader.

“He never believed in real peace with the Arabs,” Mr. Segev said of Ben-Gurion.

That’s nonsense. Here is Prime Minister Ben-Gurion’s statement to the Knesset on May 6, 1963, from the website of Israel’s foreign ministry:

When we proclaimed our renewed independence at four o’clock in the afternoon of Friday, May 14, 1948, we declared:

“We extend the hand of peace and good-neighborliness to all the States around us and to their peoples, and we call upon them to cooperate in mutual helpfulness with the independent Jewish nation in its Land. The State of Israel is prepared to make its contribution in a concerted effort for the advancement of the entire Middle East.”

Israel realizes that her fate is interwoven with the fate of all mankind, and her peace depends on the peace of the world….I believe with implicit faith that the day will come when true peace will reign between Israel and her neighbors, but until that day we must ward off the danger of the war that the Arab rulers are planning against Israel.

How can the historian Tom Segev possibly know for sure that Ben Gurion was lying when he said he believed in peace? And why would the Times pass along that accusation to its readers without any evidence, or without providing the ample evidence to the contrary?

Segev’s biography of Ben-Gurion was rightfully panned by Ephraim Karsh in the Wall Street Journal (“Segev, like his fellow revisionists, is not bothered with mere facts in his endeavor to rewrite Ben-Gurion and, by extension, Israel’s history in an image of his own making.”)

It’s all a useful reminder that for Israel’s real enemies at the New York Times, the issue isn’t really the post-1967 “occupation” of the West Bank, or Israel’s supposed lurch toward the authoritarian right under Benjamin Netanyahu. The real issue is 1948-style Zionism itself: the mere existence of a Jewish state of the sort brought into reality by Ben-Gurion.

Leave it to the Times to take a positive story about Israel’s blossoming relations with its Arab neighbors and somehow find a way to turn it into a nasty, posthumous attack on Ben-Gurion.

Ira Stoll was managing editor of The Forward and North American editor of The Jerusalem Post. His media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here.

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