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OPINION: Applause for town of Windsor, N.S.

Lucy Kleinerman, Shlicha of the Atlantic Jewish Council, and Lt. Jonny Barkhouse, of the West Nova Scotia Regiment, played the roles of Paula and David Ben-Gurion during the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Jewish Legion in Windsor.
Lucy Kleinerman, Shlicha of the Atlantic Jewish Council, and Lt. Jonny Barkhouse, of the West Nova Scotia Regiment, played the roles of Paula and David Ben-Gurion during the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Jewish Legion in Windsor. - Colin Chisholm

“We do not want to and we do not have to expel Arabs and take their place.” – David Ben-Gurion

BY MIKE FEGELMAN

GUEST OPINION

Re: The Guardian: Jim Hicks: "Memorial a mistake" (September 25, 2018, A10)

http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/opinion/letter-memorial-a-mistake-244375/

David Ben-Gurion was Israel's first prime minister and it's thanks to his tireless efforts, that the Jewish state was founded and that it exists and flourishes today.

Having been on the vanguard in leading the struggle to establish the State of Israel in May 1948, and having declared Israel's independence and fought off five combined Arab armies determined to wipe Israel off the map, Ben-Gurion is rightly regarded in history as one of Israel's finest and a nation's treasure.

Ben-Gurion served as prime minister and defense minister and as Premier, he oversaw the establishment of the state's institutions and united several Jewish militias into the Israel Defense Forces.

According to Jewish Virtual Library, Ben-Gurion presided over various national projects aimed at the rapid development of the country and its population: “Operation Magic Carpet,” the airlift of Jews from Arab countries, the construction of the national water carrier, rural development projects and the establishment of new towns and cities. In particular, he called for pioneering settlement in outlying areas, especially in the Negev.

Jim Hicks' efforts to smear Ben-Gurion and to tarnish his legacy is malicious and the quotes he attributes to Ben-Gurion are false and cannot be verified. Make no mistake, Jews are the indigenous people of the land of Israel and have lived there, uninterrupted, for 3,000 years. Importantly, Hicks' false quotation suggesting that Ben-Gurion favoured the ethnic cleansing of Arabs, is actually the opposite of the truth.

In fact, Ben-Gurion actually wrote the following in a letter: “We do not want to and we do not have to expel Arabs and take their place.” Israel supported the Partition Plan which would have created separate Jewish and Arab states.

Sadly, the Arabs rejected the plan and waged war which displaced hundreds of thousands who were encouraged by the Arab world to leave the area en masse. Importantly, there’s no proof that Ben-Gurion ever said that his solution for the situation with the Palestinians was that the “old would die and the young ones (would) forget.”

Before he became Israel’s first prime minister, Ben-Gurion is said to have earned 50 cents a day as a soldier and slept on the ground in bell tents in the small town of Windsor, N.S.

Windsor should be lauded for celebrating Ben-Gurion's remarkable and little-known connection to Nova Scotia on the 100th anniversary of the training of the Jewish Legion.

- Mike Fegelman is executive director, Honest Reporting Canada, Toronto, Ont.

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