A previously unknown letter written by Israel’s first prime minister David Ben-Gurion describing his vision for the nascent state was recently discovered, approximately 69 years after it was first sent.
The 1951 missive to a Swedish journalist was kept by the recipient’s granddaughter, who is the current Swedish ambassador to Finland Nicola Clase.
Clase shared the letter with Israeli Ambassador to Finland Hagit Ben-Yaakov at a meeting between the two.
In his letter, Ben-Gurion wrote in Hebrew: “In establishing the State of Israel, the dream of generations of Jews for a national revival has been realized.
"We are at the beginning of our journey, the state was established not only for the hundreds of thousands of Jews who lived in the country before - but for all the masses of scattered Israelis, who need and aspire to an independent homeland... Most of all, humanity needs at this time peace, cooperation and friendship between peoples. True friendship will thrive solely on the basis of mutual recognition."
"[Clase’s] grandfather was a journalist in his youth who worked for the Swedish magazine Världshorisont," says Ben-Yaakov.
"The magazine wrote a special issue on Israel and sent a draft of it to David Ben-Gurion, then the prime minister of the young State of Israel. Ben-Gurion wrote back to the magazine with a letter in which he presented in Hebrew his vision.”
According to Clase, her grandfather framed the letter and hung it in his home. After his death, she took the letter, which now accompanies her wherever she goes.
"I held the letter in my hand and began to translate Ben-Gurion’s words for her," says Ben-Yaakov. "When I finished reading we were both teary-eyed from excitement."
In 2019, another letter written by the country's first prime minister was uncovered, in which Ben-Gurion asks his political rival MK Esther Raziel-Naor to delete from the Knesset’s protocol things she said regarding Israel’s nuclear capabilities.