Critical Context

The existence of Israel has been fact since 1948, but most Americans know little about it or about Ben-Gurion, and misinformation has accumulated about both topics. Therefore, St. John’s Ben-Gurion clarifies many issues. For example, the book argues that the militancy of tiny Israel arises from its being surrounded by hostile nations. In addition, the great odds against Israel’s armed forces explain why they have usually attacked first when war threatens—any other policy would cause probable defeat and possible annihilation. As for Ben-Gurion, the book presents him as a great leader, full of common sense and the political, social, religious, and technological insight needed to forge a modern nation from a very mixed population of European and Asian Jews. In addition, Ben-Gurion was shown to possess the ability needed to persuade subordinates and other great individuals to do the best they could for Israel, with a minimum of self-interest.

This kind of exposition helps young readers by providing historical lessons about what is necessary to found and continue a nation in the face of great odds. Also, it delineates the characteristics and sacrifices of great leaders and diplomats. Misconceptions are eliminated, and a fact base is constructed concerning the attitudes and actions of Great Britain, the United States, Israel, and the Arab nations, which collectively have produced continual problems in the Middle East.

Ben-Gurion: The Biography of an Extraordinary Man shows that misunderstanding, religious and political bias, and poor communication continually escalate violence between nations. If ways can be developed to persuade Arab and Israeli extremists to talk meaningfully, then innocents on both sides of continuing Arab-Israeli wars may yet be spared. This book exposes past problems and helps students to realize the value of good communication between people and nations, as well as the futility of violence.