Did the Independent just publish a fake Ben-Gurion quote? (Update)

An article in the Independent by Harriet Agerholm gives discredited extremist Richard Falk a chance to air his side of the row involving his co-authorship of a report claiming that Israel is an apartheid state. The article, (Professor who labelled Israel an ‘apartheid regime’ defends UN report stating Israelis have used same term, March 29), quotes Falk, in an interview he gave to Middle East Eye, thusly:

Professor Falk also pointed out [in the Middle East Eye interview] that “apartheid” had been used by a number senior Israeli politicians to describe the situation with the Palestinian people, including the country’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion.

He quoted a 1967 radio address from Mr Ben Gurion, when he said “Israel would soon become an apartheid state” if it did not “rid itself of the territories and their Arab population as soon as possible.”

We had never come across this alleged quote before, and there weren’t many references to it online – which seems surprising given how valuable such a charge would be to anti-Zionists.  Indeed, the sole source for the quote appears to be a book by Israeli journalist Hirsh Goodman titled “Let me create a paradise, God said to himself…”, published in 2005.  On page 78, Hirsh purports to recall a radio broadcast by Ben-Gurion late on June 10th (or early on June 11), 1967, day five or six of the Six Day War. 

Here’s the page (via Amazon), in which Goodman is recalling the weekend (June 9-10) he returned home for a 48 hour leave from the war.

First, it appears as if Goodman is relying completely on his own memory, recalling a radio broadcast more than 35 years after the fact.  There’s no mention of it in Ben-Gurion’s Six Day War diary published by Brandeis.  CAMERA’s Israel office staff couldn’t find any mention of the quote in Hebrew searches. Moreover, it seems extraordinarily unlikely that Ben-Gurion would have said such a thing at all, yet alone while the Six Day War was still in progress –  only two days after the IDF took control of the territory.

We reached out to prominent Israeli historian Benny Morris, who told us in an email that he never heard of that Ben-Gurion quote.

We contacted Middle East historian Martin Kramer, who also said that quote seems “dubious”. Kramer noted that in the days following the war, Ben-Gurion visited Hebron and said the ancient Jewish city was Jerusalem’s twin and had to be kept and rapidly settled. Kramer added that Ben-Gurion did not want all of the West Bank, “but he wasn’t prepared to give back everything either”, thus making it extremely unlikely he would have ever opined about “the territories.” As for the “apartheid state” analogy, Kramer noted that it appears nowhere in the war diary of Ben-Gurion, or in any scholarly study devoted to Ben-Gurion’s later years.

At this point, it appears as if The Independent – by uncritically citing Falk – has helped circulate an inaccurate quote by the late Israeli prime minister. 


Following this post, we reached out to the Ben-Gurion Archives. The archivist we spoke to never heard of the quote.  We also spoke to Zaki Shalom, Senior Research Fellow at The Institute for National Security Studies, and author of Ben-Gurion’s Political Struggles, 1963-1967: A Lion in Winter. Shalom also never heard of the quote. Additionally, we contacted Ben-Gurion biographer Anita Shapira, who told us in an email that the quote seemed “implausible”. Finally, we emailed Hirsh Goodman, who stands by his recollection, but declined, when asked, to provide any further details on the interview, such as the name of the radio station or the name of the interviewer. 

UPDATE 2: Following our communication with Independent editors, the text of the article was revised to reflect the fact that it is only Falk’s claim that Ben-Gurion uttered these words. 

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39 replies »

    • He got another thing wrong. “Jerusalem of Gold” premiered that year (1967) and not the previous (1966). And it did not win the song fest. It wasn’t even judged. It was the song that played while the judges reviewed the contestants. I also question why he is thinking about going back to the war zone on Saturday, when the war ended that day.

          • OK. Now I’m asking a question: do you accept that Ben Gurion said, “Foolish Zionism is not good for the people of Israel?”
            The answer will be either ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

            • I would have to read it in a book to understand when Ben-Gurion was talking about.

              You are not a book. You are not even a journalist. You are a commenter on a message board regarding Israeli coverage in the UK press. And as a said commenter, you have this amazing ability to (gasp) get things wrong.

              I’ve seen it myself. Ergo, my own self won’t let my eyes trust your printed words.

              Crazy, ain’t it?

  1. Richard Falk called the Boston Marathon bombings a “conspiracy perpetrated by Tel Aviv.” What is this man doing in the UK, a country known for denying entry to those who say harmful things, and allowed to address and incite young adults on college campuses with his bigoted and crazy conspiracy theories regarding Jews?

    • jeff21st as silly as this might sound it could be because nobody has complained directly to the Home Office that his presence in the U.K. is not conducive to the public good. I think you will find that those who have been denied entry have been the subject of a complaint or complaints by individuals or organizations.
      If you have any friends living in the U.K. ask them to raise it with some grounds why he should be denied entry.
      Always worth a try, you might succeed.

    • Whenever I have trouble sleeping, I put on a recording of John Kerry speaking. That does the trick. I go out like a light.

    • Does it somehow make it kosher that a blog that followed Hirsch Goodman incorrectly quoting Ben Gurion was published in Times of Israel?
      There was no such quotation and there is certainly no apartheid in Israel. If that is pilpul (correct spelling) then it is necessary pilpul

      • Thank you for the corrected spelling of pilpul. It is not in the English dictionary. For a reference to the intentions of Ben Gurion, a single quote notwithstanding, see the new book, “State of Terror, How Terrorism Created Modern Israel”, 2017, by Thomas Suarez. For the effect of Israel on the United States, see “Big Israel, How Israel’s Lobby Moves America”, 2016, by Grant F. Smith. The adverse literature is piling up; soon, Amazon and Barnes and Noble will have a hundred books to boycott.

        • How amusing, why on earth should I have any trust in Thomas Suarez who I had not heard of but who is praised only by well known anti-Israel/anti Zionists (which the Pope correctly calls antisemites)?

          Pilpul is a Hebrew word so you won’t find it commonly used in English.

          • I hear from an author’s interview of Ben Ehrenreich (“Way to the Spring, Life and Death in Palestine”, 2016) that Tel Aviv is a place of Hedonism.( Perhaps like “Cabaret”, Berlin during the Weimar Republic.) Is that true? Here is the interview:

            1 hour 23 minutes.

            • Ben Ehrenreich is exactly the author you need to read – he is exactly the source who can supply you with his Jew hating fantasies.

            • Johnson I note from one of your entries on Mondoweiss that you cite David Irving’s website as a source of information.
              Irving as the civilized World is aware is a convicted criminal, a discredited Holocaust denier, and general piece of low life neo-Nazi scum.
              Now do crawl back into the sewer you and the rest of the anti-Semitic filth infest.

              • In case Johnson attempts to deny it, we all know that neo-Nazi trash such as Johnson and his ilk are liars and cowards, this is the entry from his ‘Mondoweiss’ profile. The link is to David Irving’s website.

                “Ronald Johnson January 17, 2017 at 10:02 am with 6 replies
                We should note the freezing out of Alison Weir among the various groups, relative to the one-state, two state debate, putatively for justice for the Palestinians. Her book, “Against Our Better Judgement…” exposes the Brandeis/Frankfurter/Chaim Weizmann cabal that pushed the US into World War One, at the cost of 118,000 American soldiers dead plus the traumatized and wounded, and millions more of Europeans. Weizmann later took full credit for that in a letter to Winston Churchill in September 1941, while trying to get Britain to arm the Jews of Palestine. It is tricky to deal with the Zionist history so as not to uncover inconvenient facts.
                – See more at:

            • You’re doing a half-decent job hitting all some spots in “Discredited Piece of Shit Bingo”, with your correct guesses on “Grant F. Smith” and “Ben Ehrenreich”, but you need to up your troll game son. Put in some quotes from Gilad Atzmon, Kevin F. Barrett and Lasha Darkmoon and you’ll be a winner. Until then…no, just no.

            • By mentioning Cabaret you are specifically comparing Israelis to Nazis. Your intention is wholly hostile (in case you hadn’t noticed)

              So no. Tel Aviv is a fun city where the start ups quietly revolutionise the world and there is no goose stepping. That takes place at the Palestinian universities just a few kilometres away physically and a world away morally

              • It’s a bitter pill, but on review of my collected works, and Marge’s response, I see that I’m into inappropriate anger about this question, and it is time for a re-evaluation. I apologize for having given offense. Everyone is playing the cards that they were dealt, and I have to appreciate that.

        • That would be Thomas Suarez the professional violinist. I’m waiting for his book on “Nuclear Fusion and the Carbon Footprint”
          Who else would I consult but a professional violinist.

          Grant F Smith a man who makes a living out of spouting scare stories about the notorious ‘Israel Lobby’.
          Well it beats having to work for a living or do something constructive.

          The only thing I see ‘piling up’ is a heap of the brown smelly stuff.

        • Oh sure. Can’t wait to get my hands on the antisemitic material. Always so much fun to read about how corrupting the Jews are on the innocent.
          re: “Ronald Johnson”
          You know, that actually sounds like something you do with yourself.

  2. I like Hirsh Goodman on balance, on the baseball roster of anti-Israel turds who’ve been cited after articles he probably doesn’t get a spot, but he’s shown in the past he’d be willing to play fast and loose with the facts if it helps his anti-occupation beliefs (which he’d held for a long time but which also haven’t gone into bigoted-BDS territory), and I think this is one of those situations.