Sunday, November 11, 2012

Ben Gurion Spars with a Voter

On March 27, 1962, a schoolgirl from the kibbutz of Nahal Oz in the northern Negev wrote to David Ben Gurion, then in the 13th year of his prime ministership. Her letter was a combination of gushing awe that she was writing to the prime minister, and budding criticism from a young citizen who demands answers from her leaders and isn't sure she's going to accept what she'll be told.
I am a member of the youth group of Nahal Oz. We are 35 kids. We're also the first youth group here. We've been here 5 months and feel great. Recently we decided to study the region in detail. Today our discussion reached the Bsor area, and a question arose in class: Why has this area been neglected? Are there plans to continue the development of the area? I'm writing to you because our teacher said you were a strong supporter of the development of our area. I hope someday to receive a response from you to this troublesome question, because we feel it's very important to develop the Negev. And we're in favor of more people coming here and developing the region. We would be very happy if you would come and visit us someday. We know that you must be very busy, and we don't wish to bother you. But we hope that  someday you'll find the time and the moment to visit us. We wish for you that you live for many years, and that you be our prime minister in our land for all those years.

"The Oz Group"
Nahal Oz
The Negev
You get the strong whiff of the irreverant  political culture that was to develop in Israel.

Ben Gurion responded within the week, on April 2nd 1962:

To the "Oz Group"

I recieved your unsigned letter of March 27th. I am very glad to hear there's a youth group at Nahal Oz and that you are happy there. You ask: why have we neglected the Bsor area? We haven't "neglected". The Negev is broad and wide (compared to the size of the country), and many years will be required for its development. Important things are happening there: Mitzpeh Ramon is being built, Arad is being planned,  Eilat is growing, Dimona is expanding. Agricultural settlements are being nurtured in Yotvata, Ein Gedi, Sdeh Boker, Neot Hakikar and elsewhere. It's impossible to do everything at once.

If I can find the time I will gladly come and visit you, but I don't think this will happen in the coming months. I thank you for your nice letter, and next time sign your name to what you write.

In friendship,

D. Ben Gurion (no signature) (at least, not on the copy which remains in the file)

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