Ghost writer composes posts from archive of first PM's letters, thoughts.
By MEL BEZALELPublished: MAY 13, 2009 01:07Advertisement
Thirty-five years after his death, David Ben-Gurion is passing comment on current affairs through a new blog composed entirely from his own words.
"David Ben-Gurion's Blog" was created two months ago by the Ben-Gurion Heritage Institute at Sde Boker as a way of expanding the heritage of Israel's first prime minister.
"The man of vision. I wrote a few books, but I'm pretty new to the blogosphere," is how Ben-Gurion introduces himself.
Ilan Ben-Yaacov, head of the history section in the institute's study program, is Ben-Gurion's ghost writer. He composes each Hebrew blog entry from the institute's on-line archive of the former prime minister's letters and thoughts.
Ben-Yaacov dreamed up the idea a few months ago to coincide with the institute's recently renovated Web site.
"I think blogs are an appropriate way to publish your thoughts and get them to the public," Ben-Yaacov said on Monday. "I thought Ben-Gurion was such a great leader and had a lot to say about things that go on today... He is a modern thinker, and I think he designed many of the values and things we believe in today in the Israeli state."
Ben-Yaacov blogs on Ben-Gurion's behalf about the main issues of the week, and has written about the state budget (in 1952) and the UN (in 1967). Earlier this month, he published a letter addressed to poet Natan Alterman about polio and the media's obligations.
Alterman had a column in the now-defunct Davar newspaper, known as "the seventh column," and in 1962, Ben-Gurion wrote to chastise him about a poem he had penned about polio. This blog entry was intended as a reference to swine flu and its pervasive reporting in today's newspapers.
"[Ben-Gurion] didn't write about swine flu, of course," Ben-Yaacov said, "but he wrote something about polio, and he had a little argument with Natan Alterman about what the papers should and shouldn't write."
Ben-Gurion wrote: "In many cases (for instance, the terrible disease of polio) the source of the illness is still unknown. Even the state doesn't have the strength to know everything that needs to be done. And therefore it's easy to ignite the hearts of the parents... The facts should be known before they are published, even in the form of a nice poem...
"I am sorry to say that your heavy accusations were made without knowing the facts, even though I have no shadow of a doubt that what you wrote had good and genuine intentions," he continued. "But that's not enough when the issue deals with parents' feelings and the difficulty of raising children."
There were initial concerns that the blog would be seen as disrespectful. Edna Batan, the institute's deputy head, raised this issue with Ben-Yaacov at the project's inception.
"When I suggested the blog, Edna was afraid about the conservatives saying it's rude and it's not appropriate for his memory," Ben-Yaacov recalled. "I think we've done it right. We don't want to hurt his heritage; we want to spread it out."
Ben-Yaacov, who is studying for a doctorate in Jewish thought at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beersheba, has high hopes for the blog, which he expects to update weekly.
"The dream I have is that everyone who will search google for terms like leadership, Israel, Zionism or Negev and other subjects will get to the blog and find that Ben-Gurion had something to say about things happening right now," he said.
The blog can be accessed at bengurionblog.blogspot.com.
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