P. 9

                                                             Introduction to the book
on the National Institutions Building
Isaac Herzog, Chairman of the Executive of the Jewish Agency for Israel
I am constantly reminded, and I keep on reminding, that the room in which I serve as Chairman of the Executive of the Jewish Agency for Israel in the National Institutions Building, is the same room from which David Ben-Gurion set out to declare the establishment of the State of Israel.
Each morning I enter the office, I am struck with a special sense of awe. I imagine the burden of history, the weight of the discussions, the gravity of the decisions reached between these very walls, in this very building. Few structures in the Land of Israel, and in Jerusalem in particular, epitomize the reawakening of the People of Israel in their land, the incarnation of Zionism, as does the National Institutions Building, that of the nascent government and that of the rebirth of our Homeland, The Beginning of Our Redemption.
From time to time, similar to my practice in the Knesset throughout my various political functions, I take my guests for an instructive tour of the National Institutions Building and through its corridors. As the song goes, there are men with hearts of stone, and then there are walls with hearts of men. The saga of the Jewish People returning to their land after 2000 years of wandering and the birth of the State of Israel is etched into the walls of the National Institutions Building.
If only the impressive Jerusalem stones enveloping this building could talk, they would tell the tale of the caches of weapons ingeniously concealed in the walls during the British mandate. They would report of the momentous debates in smoke-filled rooms, they would express deep sorrow and agony as word of the Holocaust came trickling in from Europe, they would recount the heroic battles of 1948 and of course, the horrific havoc wrought by the car bomb sent to the Building courtyard by the Grand Mufti in March 1948. This explosion left dozens of casualties, of whom quite a few were fatal – including the late Keren Hayesod Chairman Leib Yaffe. Among those wounded was my mother Aura Herzog, who was in the building at the time and was severely wounded. The book before us quotes my late father, Chaim Herzog (later to become Israel's sixth President), who served at the time as The Jewish Agency's Chief Security Director, recounting the events in which he found my mother and rescued her from beneath the rubble, wounded and unconscious. He describes the chaos, the fatalities and destruction. My Mother often recounted the trauma she experienced in this harrowing event.
It was in this building that the Israeli Parliament, the "Knesset", assembled for the first time after two thousand years and swore in the first President of the State of Israel, the late Chaim Weizmann (in the very hall that now bears his name). This is the building which housed the Prime Minister's office and cabinet meetings from the time the State of Israel was established until the move to the present-day Government Compound in the early 1960s. It is thus that our nation's leaders

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