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November 18, 1983 - Image 18

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1983-11-18

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

18 Friday, November 18, 1983

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

-

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4

Paula Ben-Gurion's Humorous Image Depicted by Dan Kurzman

Dan Kurzman's thorough
account of the life of Israel's
first prime minister who
was the guiding spirit in the
rebirth of Israel's statehood
includes accounts of the
leading Jewish per-
sonalities in this century's
Zionist involvements.
In his "David Ben-
Gurion: Prophet of Fire"
(Simon and Schuster),
Kurzman gives a full ac-
count of B-G's love affair
with Rachel Nelkin (Beit-
Halachmi). These revela-
tions in no sense over-

shadow the role of Mrs.
Ben-Gurioii — Paula — who
became a legend in pre-
Israel Palestine and in her
husband's relationship with
world figures, as well as in
the latter years in Israel.
Paula was a source of
punning, and many anec-
dotes are ascribed to her.
Perhaps the most famous of
the stories in which she
played "a diplomatic role" is
when the late UN chief Dag
Hammarskjold was advised
by Paula that he could bet-
ter serve mankind if he

were married. This is an ex-
cerpt worth perpetuating:

"It was now time to woo
the world that still chil-
lingly recalled peering
into the abyss after the
Sinai campaign. Israel, as
always, needed foreign
allies and, in any case,
had to clear the path that
would one day lead to
universal redemption.
And in the next few years
Ben-Gurion wooed
passionately.

"His campaign was per-
haps symbolized by Dag
Hammarskjold's visit to Is-
rael shortly after peace had
settled over the Middle
East. Ben-Gurion was re-
solved to win the sympathy
of this man who had so an-
grily condemned the Sinai
attack, for he did, after all,
represent the world that Is-
rael was destined to help re-
deem.
"Paula, however, seemed
more interested in redeem-
ing the man. At an official
dinner she stared at her dis-
tinguished guest as he sip-
ped his soup and asked,
`Hammarskjold, why don't
you get married?'
"The Secretary General,
spoon in shaky hand, smiled
and replied that he had no
time.

" 'Ben-Gurion also had
no time, yet he found me!'

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" 'But why should I get
married?' asked Ham-
marskjold in astonishment.
" 'Personally I don't care
whether you do or not. But
married people have trouble
at home with the children
and problems of money and
making a living. You would
have so much trouble of
your own, you wouldn't
have time to give us any!'
"Later, in Sde Boker,
there was another dinner.
Paula sat Hammarskjold
down in the communal din-
ing hall, placed a bowl of
tomatoes, onions and
radishes before him and
commanded: 'Eat! Don't
talk!' After the 'feast,' how-
ever, Paula remembered
the cause and made a nearly
supreme sacrifice. She let
the Secretary General have
the bathroom in the family

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DAN KURZMAN

cabin all to himself while
she and the Prime Minister
washed and brushed their
teeth in the kitchen sink.
"The next morning
Hammarskjold dragged
himself along on a six-
kolometer hike with Ben-
Gurion and Yehoshua Co-
hen, whom the prime minis-
ter jocularly introduced as a
`former terrorist.' One can
only speculate how the
Swedish visitor would have
reacted if he had known
that he was matching
strides with the assassin of
Count Bernadotte, a coun-
tryman who had repre-
sented the very organiza-
tion that Hammarskjold
now headed!

"But the Ben-Gurions
had not done too badly.
The Secretary General
left Israel alive — if a bit
humbled — and more
sympathetic to Israel
than he had been before.
He clung to 'rich im-
pressions,' he said. Also
to bachelorhood."

Another famous world
personality who is per-
petuated in the Paula
Ben-Gurion record of the

* * *

Kurzman Speaks
at Hanuka Fete

Under the joint sponsor-
ship of Histadrut, Labor
Zionist Alliance and Pio-
neer Women/Naamat, a
Hanuka celebration will
take place 11 a.m. Dec. 4 at
the United Hebrew Schools
auditorium.
There will be a candle-
lighting ceremony, songs
and latkes, with guest
speaker Dan Kurzman,
author, journalist and
foreign correspondent.
Kurzman has just com-
pleted a definitive .biog-
raphy of the first Prime
Minister of Israel, "Ben-
Gurion: Prophet of Fire."
Kurzman, as a correspon-
dent for the Washington
Post, won both the Front-
Page and the Long Island
University George Polk
Memorial Awards. Earlier
he was an INS correspon-
dent in Paris and NBC
correspondent in Jerusalem
and Cairo, and the
McGraw-Hill World News
bureau chief in Tokyo. He
has authored seven books
and won four major awards
for his writing.
The Hanuka celebration
is open to the public. How:
ever, reservations are re-
quired. For reservations,
call the Histadrut office,
967-4720.

outspokenness was U.S.
Secretary of State John Fos-
ter Dulles. The story ac-
counts Paula's actions as
hostess. It's worth recalling,
as Kurzman delineates the
"frankness" that made
Paula the subject of so much
curiosity:
"Ben-Gurion
. . .
suggested to Secretary of
State Marshall the same
year (1951) that Israel
would welcome American
bases in Israel. But all he
received was a promise to
`cooperate' in case of war.
When Eisenhower came to
PAULA BEN-GUR1ON
power, Ben-Gurion decided
to try again with his Secre- terested in an alliance. And
tary of State, John Foster the prime minister would be
Dulles. And he saw the eating fish for a week."
opportunity when Dulles
Another episode indi-
stopped off in Israel in May cating bluntness-
1953.
frankness is related
"Hoping to soften him up, about Paula when she
Paula arranged an elabo- met with Helena Rubins-
rate welcome. Although she tein. Kurzman narrates:
usually served guests her-
"Paula was also a good
self, sometimes with the hostess at parties, prepar-
help of her husband's ing-all the food herself, even
secretaries, this time she calling diplomatic wives
would need real waiters. into the kitchen to teach
Well, not truly real ones — them how to cook. Nor was
the state couldn't afford she extravagant when she
them. She called in the _ entertained, especially if
guards and ordered them to the guest could not be of
rip off their insignias. Fine! great service to Ben-Gurion
They were waiters. Then or herself. When Helena
she prepared the 27-kilo (60 Rubinstein, the cosmetic ty-
pound) fish someone sent coon, visited her she .got
her from Iceland and cookies instead of the elabo-
dumped it into a tin rate chocolate cake a friend
bathtub of cold water in the had baked for the occasion.
garage.
" 'I'll keep the cake,'
"Dulles came, and ev- Paula told the friend.
erything went smoothly, `Cookies are good enough
even after Paula ad- for her.'
monished him to have
"Nor did she appreciate
more chicken soup or 'I'll Rubinstein's gift of cosme-
have to throW it out.' Fi- tics. 'Does she think I want
nally coffee and cookies to look like her?'

were served, and Paula
could relax.

" 'Are these cookies
homemade?' the secretary
asked appreciatively.
"Paula paled. 'Yes, of
course . . . But I don't know
in whose home.'
"He had to ask about the
one thing she hadn't pre-
pared herself! -
"Nor was Ben-Gurion any
happier than Paula when
Dulles departed. The secre-
tary had shown no in-

"But Paula's manner
was often so disarmingly
folksy that guests didn't
mind her bluntness. Still,
one British political
leader almost • swallowed
his soup spoon when she
remarked to him: 'Your
wife is older than you,
isn't she?' . ."

Perhaps Paula belongs in
humor anthologies.
Kurzman provides the basis
for such recognition.

—P.S.

CHILDREN OF HOLOCAUST-SURVIVORS

ASSOCIATION IN MICHIGAN

cordially invite you to a
benefit showing of the film

YENTL

starring

Barbra Streisand

on December 10, 1983
at the Americana West Theatre at 7:30 p.m.

• $100.00 - Two Admissions, Donor, name in pro-
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• $ 25.00 . One Admission, Sponsor, and name
in program.
• $ 10.00 - One general admission.

For further ticket information call:
851-4995 or 855-4105

All proceeds directly benefit the

HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL CENTER

Of West Bloomfield, Michigan

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