P. 211

King George Street, the main traffic artery of the Jewish Sector, was crowded. The dancing didn't stop in the square of the National Institutions. Mrs. Golda Meyerson was called several times to make speeches before the audience. David Ben-Gurion, who arrived in the morning hours, was met with cheers and gave a speech before the huge crowd.
Golda Meir, who was then the Director of the Political Department of the Jewish Agency, wrote about that historic night in her memoirs:
I listened at my home to the broadcast from the UN. Once the results became known, I immediately went to the Jewish Agency Building, and the square in front of it was filled with people from end to end. This was an unbelievable sight: hundreds of people, including British soldiers, holding hands, singing and dancing, with more and more trucks filled with people arriving all the time.
I went up to my office on my own, since I could not partake in the general gaiety. The Arabs had rejected the plan with both hands and spoke only of war. The masses, drunk from happiness, wanted to hear a speech, and I was certain that refusing them and ruining the mood would be malicious. And so, I spoke for a few minutes from the balcony of my office.
After Golda Meir's second speech, rhythmic chanting was heard: "Ben-Gurion, Ben-Gurion!" This was already in the morning hours and word-of-mouth told that Ben-Gurion, the Chairman of the Jewish Agency and the most senior leader, spent the night in the "Kalya" Hotel on the shores of the Dead Sea. Ben-Gurion, in a white shirt and a short jacket suddenly appeared on the balcony on the second floor that served as a stage. With his hands, he silenced the loud cheers and shouted: "Long live the Jewish People." The crowd roared with joy, and Ben-Gurion continued and asked everyone in the Jewish Yishuv in general and in the audience in particular to be worthy of the great hour. "After a struggle and superhuman efforts" he said, "the battle was only getting started and the Yishuv must not forget all those who helped it and all those that need to be helped, first and foremost the tens of thousands of Jewish Holocaust survivors, who continue to rot in the refugee camps in Europe, who must be brought to the Land of Israel." He also mentioned the Jews in Yemen, Iraq and the other Middle Eastern countries, who it was also important to bring to the Land of Israel soon. Ben-Gurion concluded his brief remarks with eight words that triggered a new wave of cheers: "This day we have become free people!"
Afterwards Ben-Gurion entered the building. In the meeting room near his office, the entire Executive of the Jewish Agency had gathered along with David Remez, Chairman of the Jewish National Council, for an urgent discussion on a seemingly banal question: "What next?" Ben-Gurion expressed his opinion and others spoke as well, however the discussion was repeatedly stopped. Many wanted to come to the room to personally congratulate Ben-Gurion and the members of the Executive while the ushers let them in a few at a time.

   209   210   211   212   213