Radio recording of Prime Minister Golda Meir, Israel’s Independence Day, 1973
In Israel today, dreams of ages have taken on flesh and blood, have become realities. A state, a government and parliament…it seems so natural. We wonder and try hard to remember how was it before May 14, 1948. But the greatest of all wonders – open gates! This dream too has come true. It has actually happened. Jews in their thousands are coming every day, tens of thousands every month, by sea and by air. All kinds of Jews from all countries, young and old. No High Commissioner, no Colonial Office, no more begging for certificates. It is so simple - they just come. The barbed wires of Cyprus safeguard only the shame of Great Britain, for all its former inmates are here, free in the Land of Israel. Yemenite Jews from Aden are being flown out of untold misery into life and freedom. Jews from Morocco, Jews from Eastern Europe, Jews from camps of cursed Germany, from Austria, from Italy – a real kibbutz galuyot – the ingathering of our people.
And again we say in all humility: why are we so privileged that we, of all generations that have lived, we have lived to see this great day? But we dare barely allow ourselves a moment of idleness, a moment of idle joy, this which is taking place now, again is a great challenge. Will we win or fail? Are we, you and we, capable only of winning a war or are we also capable of accomplishing that for which the war has been fought and won?
The link allows you to listen to a CBS radio program that aired in the week of May 14, 1973 – the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel. The program gives a brief history of the Jewish people before focusing on their twentieth-century struggle for a state of their own by interviewing personalities such as David Ben-Gurion, Chaim Weizmann, and Abba Eban. This recording also includes the famous UN vote which gave Israel the right to establish a state and join the UN as a legal entity.
Golda Meir, the prime minister in 1973, speaks (link 18:22 – 20:09) about the consequences of the Jewish people having their own country. She talks about the realisation of dreams and the aliyah (immigration to Israel) of Jews from all over the world. She goes on to say that for those now living in Israel, it is hard to remember what it was like before the establishment of the State. The greatest achievement, according to her, was that the “gates” were opened and that thousands of Jews from all over the world arrived in Israel every day. There was no longer a foreign ruler in the country, Jews were not barred from arriving, and those kept in camps were allowed to leave and come to Israel. At the time of this recording, Jews were coming from Europe, Africa, Asia, and America – a real ingathering of exiles. Golda Meir expresses her sense of privilege that her generation lived to see the birth of the nation. She refers also to the difficult early days of the State when people were fighting for their lives. The interview finishes with her questioning whether Israel will fail or succeed and whether it will achieve the goals for which it was established. Winning wars was not the only mission, she says, the mission is also to build and develop the country and to create something for which the war (of Independence) was fought.
Jewish History teachers and Jewish Studies teachers before Yom Ha’atzmaut can use the recording when teaching about the War of Independence and immigration to Israel in the years following the establishment of the State of Israel. The recording can also be used to discuss immigration in general: the benefits and the challenges for both the immigrants and the host country.
Golda Meir is speaking in the clip. How old does she sound in the recording?
Which topics does she speak about?
What is the “greatest of all wonders” according to Golda Meir?
When was the program broadcast and why?
Reading Between the Lines
At what period in Israel’s history is Golda Meir speaking?
Which war is Golda Meir referring to?
Who is the High Commissioner, what is the Colonial Office, and what are the certificates she mentions?
What does Golda Meir mean when she says: “The barbed wires of Cyprus safeguard only the shame of Great Britain”?
In the clip, Golda talks about immigration to Israel. From which countries did immigrants arrive in Israel after the War of Independence in 1948?
How did the Israeli government help the new immigrants?
Were there any difficulties or problems with the way the new immigrants were absorbed?
Use information sources such as the internet and reference books to answer these questions.
How would you describe Golda’s speech? For example: positive, negative, moving, inspirational, apprehensive, wary. Explain your answer.
Why do people move countries?
What challenges face immigrants on moving to a new country?
What challenges face citizens of the host countries?
Do you know a family who immigrated to Israel?
Why did they move?
What were there feelings when they arrived?
Does your country absorb new immigrants?
If so, how does it help them?
Do you know anyone who hosted a new immigrant?
Make a 5-minute podcast celebrating the anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel and summarizing its achievements since 1948.
Imagine you are a new immigrant having arrived in Israel from Europe in 1949. Write a letter to your parents describing your first few days in Israel.
- Golda Meir Radio Recording