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Yad Chaim Weizmann and the westernness of Israel

James Renton

<plain_text><page sequence="1">Jewish Historical Studies , volume 44, 2012 Yad Chaim Weizmann and the Westernness of Israel* JAMES RENTON Zionist historical narratives and commemorative practices have focused to a great extent on articulating and endorsing the Jewish nation's individuality, its unique bond with the Land of Israel and need for existential and territo- rial separation from the wider world.1 Certainly, the complex connections between Zionism and the Middle East and the West have been important aspects of Zionist culture since the inception of the movement.2 For the most part, however, these wider spheres of belonging have not featured in mainstream Zionist celebrations of the past, and appear to have been secondary to the chief concern of historicizing the Jews as a nation and their claim to the land. An important exception to this picture, however, is to be found in the early years of the State of Israel, when the relationship between Zionism and the West became a key focus of Zionist public history. In the 1950s the Government of Israel became acutely concerned with securing political support in the West for the new state, which they saw as crucial for its survival. Towards that end, the Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, wished to convince the governments of the United States and Britain, in particular, not only of the pragmatic, political benefits of an alliance but also of Israel's natural place within the West. It was primarily for this reason, this article contends, that the memorialization of Israel's first President, Chaim Weizmann, who died in November 1952, became the foremost public history project of the Jewish state in its first decade - an enterprise * I would like to thank Louise Fischer, A vital Halevy, David Macmill, Orna Zeltzer and, in particular, Merav Segal for their help in the writing of this article. I am also most grateful to the anonymous referees of Jewish Historical Studies for their comments and suggestions. 1 See esp. Yael Zerubavel, Recovered Roots: Collective Memory and the Making of Israeli National Tradition (Chicago, 1995) and David N. Myers, Re-Inventing the Jewish Past : European Jewish Intellectuals and the Zionist Return to History (Oxford, 1995). 2 Michael Berkowitz, Zionist Culture and West European Jewry before the First World War (Cambridge, 1993); Michelle Campos, Ottoman Brothers: Muslims , Christians , and Jews in Early Twentieth-Century Palestine (Palo Alto, CA, 201 1); Abigail Jacobson, From Empire to Empire: Jerusalem Between Ottoman and British Rule (Syracuse, NY, 201 1), 26-27, 32-34, 51, ch. 3; Arieh Bruce Saposnik, Becoming Hebrew: The Creation of a Jewish National Culture in Ottoman Palestine (Oxford, 2008), ch. 7; David Tal, "David Ben-Gurion's Teleological Westernism", Journal of Modern Jewish Studies 10, No. 3 (201 1): 351-64. 27</page><page sequence="2">James Renton which has nonetheless been neglected by scholars. At a time when the Israeli political elite failed to evince enthusiastic support for the memorialization of the Holocaust, and when the newly instituted gravesite of the Zionist founder Theodor Herzl was marked by its simplicity and modesty,3 the government of Israel and the Zionist establishment invested substantial political and financial capital in the creation of an elaborate national memo- rial project for the late President, named Yad Chaim Weizmann, in the small green city of Rehovot. Ben-Gurion and others in the Zionist leadership saw Weizmann as the preeminent symbol of the Western character of the Jewish nation, a concep- tion derived from his legend as the scientist-statesman embraced by the political elites of the liberal democratic West. Despite his past political differences with Weizmann, in 1952 Ben-Gurion thus shared a community of interest with the late President's friends and supporters, who wished to perpetuate his memory and influence on the Jewish state. There followed a close collaboration between the Prime Minister and Weizmann's inner circle, particularly Meyer Weisgal, who had been the President's closest deputy in his final years. Ben-Gurion, Weisgal and others behind the memorial sought to promote science in particular as a central aspect of Weizmann's legacy. In addition to its practical utility for the Zionist project, they conceived of science, as many did in the post-war world, as a powerful synonym for progressive Western civilization - a liberal universalist vision of the West that allowed for the inclusion of a Jewish state. Through Yad Weizmann, therefore, they presented Weizmann's scientific achievements as part of a wider engagement with the liberal West, signified also by his political successes in that sphere, particularly the Balfour Declaration; the scientific and the political were depicted as two strands of the same story. As will be argued below, the founders of Yad Weizmann also worked to show that Weizmann was not just an individual success, who managed the feat of connecting with the West. Rather, they portrayed him as a symbol and product of the Jewish masses, whose story thus represented the inner Westernness of the Jewish people and the new State of Israel as a whole. For this reason, the Zionist establishment, under Ben-Gurion's leadership, strove to incorporate Weizmann into the pantheon of the Jewish nation, alongside the heroes and leaders of ancient Israel - a task undertaken in part by using Zionist invocations of traditional Jewish religious practices and imagery. "The West" and "Westernness" are not used here as fixed, objective labels for a readily discernible geographical area or civilization. Rather, they 3 Tom Segev, The Seventh Million : The Israelis and the Holocaust (New York, 1993), 427-34; Maoz Azaryahu, "Mount Herzl: The Creation of Israel's National Cemetery", Israel Studies 1, No. 2 (Fall 1996), 51-52, 54- 28</page><page sequence="3">Yad Chaim Weizmann and the Westernness of Israel are understood as fluid terms which mean different things to different people at a given moment - meanings that derive from the political contexts, controversies and trends of the day, and the perspective of the beholder. Certainly, the general geographical focus of "the West" is beyond question: North America and Western Europe; and "Westernness" evidently refers to the quality of belonging to that "West". Yet the issue of what precisely binds and characterizes the West and thus Westernness is open and much contested terrain.4 As will be contended in this article, the founders of Yad Weizmann conceived of a particular type of West to which the Jewish state could belong: one that was liberal, universalist and scientific. As such, in addition to debates concerning history and memory in Zionist culture, this article seeks to contribute to the growing body of scholarship on the relationship between Zionism and liberalism. In addition to recent work on the Diaspora Zionism of liberal Jewish intellectuals such as Hans Kohn and Sir Isaiah Berlin, important studies of mainstream pre-state Zionism have emphasized the centrality of a liberal humanistic philosophy in the movement.5 With regard to the formation of the state, analyses of the political outlook of Ben-Gurion, as the central figure in the Israeli political establishment in its first years, have pointed to his "Westernism" and his desire to establish Israel as a normative liberal Western democratic society.6 Adding to this scholarship, the story of Yad Weizmann keeps the lens on the Zionist centre and suggests that a desire to be associated with liberalism in its broadest sense, as expressed in the identification with a liberal West, lay at the heart of Zionist political culture from the early years of the State. Despite the great differences between the interpretations of Weizmann held by the militarist and ostensibly socialist Ben-Gurion and self-professed liberals such as Nahum Goldmann, they shared a common ground in their embrace of Weizmann as a symbol of a Western liberal modernity, to which Israel should belong, and be seen to belong. The idea of a national memorial for Chaim Weizmann was first proposed to Ben-Gurion by Sir Simon Marks, the prominent British Zionist and a close associate of the first President, when Weizmann was reaching the end of his life. Following discussions among close supporters of Weizmann and 4 Alastair Bonnett, The Idea of the West: Culture , Politics and History (Basingstoke, 2004). 5 Noam Pianko, Zionism and the Roads Not Taken: Ramdowicz, Kaplan , Kohn (Bloomington, IN, 2010); Arie Dubnov, Isaiah Berlin: The Journey of a Jewish Liberal (New York, 2012); Berkowitz, Zionist Culture, esp. 2, 77, 108; Colin Shindler, The Triumph of Military Zionism: Nationalism and the Origins of the Israeli Right (London, 2006). 6 Tal, "Ben-Gurion's Teleological Westernism"; Nir Kedar, "Jewish Republicanism", Journal of Israeli History 26, No. 2 (2007): 179-99. Kedar defines this state-building project as "Jewish Republicanism". On its limits in practice see Alan Dowty, "Israel's First Decade: Building a Civic State", in Israel: The First Decade of Independence , eds. S. Ilan Troen and Noah Lucas (Albany, NY, 1995), 31-50. 29</page><page sequence="4">James Renton his wife, Vera Weizmann,7 Marks wrote a letter to the Prime Minister on 23 May 1952, drafted, according to his own account, by Weisgal.8 In a barbed reference to plans to bury Zionist leaders on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem, close to the gravesite of the Zionist founder,9 Marks stated, "a monument erected on some hilltop to his memory would not truly express what Weizmann has meant to so many Jews". Instead, the letter suggested, "The shrine we create for him must be such as will renew itself from time to time by its inherent character of being a living focal point in the Jewish state for succeeding generations". "This shrine", Marks argued, "can only be founded in the place where Weizmann lived, worked and dreamed - in his home - in the [Weizmann] Institute [of Science] and surroundings - namely, Rehovoth." It was, Marks added, the express wish of Weizmann and his wife Vera that his final resting place should be there.10 The assumption was, therefore, that the memorial would include Weizmann's grave. The incorporation of the tomb evoked the recognition and veneration in Jewish culture of tzadikim (great figures, literally righteous ones) from the ancient Jewish past through the sacralization of their graves as points of pilgrimage and prayer - a status for the proposed Weizmann memorial that was also implied by Marks's use of the term "shrine". With the establishment of the Herzl gravesite as a memorial and site for national commemoration, the plans for the adjacent burial of other Zionist leaders, and the creation of a military cemetery that doubled as an important national commemorative space, all on "Mount Herzl", the Government of Israel and the Zionist establishment had already instituted an official modern national- ist version of this practice - religious in form but political and secular in content - within the Zionist civic culture of the new state.11 Using the form of this traditional practice served to communicate and endorse the addition of modern Israel's icons to the pantheon of the Jewish nation and to signify the continuity between the golden age of ancient Israel and the present - a common feature of Zionist commemorative culture.12 The Marks proposal made clear, however, that the Weizmann memorial should be special. In addition to being a shrine that established Weizmann's place in the nation's pantheon, it had to be a beacon of central and ongoing relevance to the life of the nation, "a living focal point". Ben-Gurion seized on Marks's idea and, following his recommendations, 7 Stenographic report of Government of Israel meeting, 16 Nov. 1952, p. 20, Israel State Archives (ISA). 8 Meyer Weisgal, Meyer Weisgal . . . So Far : An Autobiography (London, 1971), 285-6. 9 Azaryahu, "Mount Herzl", 55. 10 Marks to Ben-Gurion, 23 May 1952, end. in Weisgal to Ben-Gurion, 4 June 1952, Weizmann Institute of Science Archives, Rehovot, Israel (WIS A) 12-75(3). 11 Azaryahu, "Mount Herzl", 46-60. 12 On the theme of continuity see Zerubavel, Recovered Roots. 30</page><page sequence="5">Yad Chaim Weizmann and the Westernness of Israel appointed a planning committee just ten days later. As a guide, he sent them Marks's proposals, which were to be incorporated into the committee's terms of reference. The individuals approved for the committee demonstrated the seriousness with which Ben-Gurion and the Zionist establishment accorded the project from the very start. As Marks suggested, they included Levi Eshkol, then the Minister of Agriculture and Development, and Dr Abraham Granott, the Chairman of the World Directorate of the Jewish National Fund, along with the Mayor of Rehovot, Ben Zion Horowitz, and Meyer Weisgal, who was appointed as chairman - an act which established the Prime Minister's close alliance with Weizmann's supporters and friends. They were joined by no less a figure than the General Director of the Civil Government Offices in HaKirya in Tel Aviv, Shlomo Arazi, as Secretary and Technical Adviser.13 At first glance, the Prime Minister's reaction is rather surprising. Ben- Gurion had been Weizmann's bitterest political opponent in the Zionist world in the years running up to the foundation of the state, as he strove to replace him as the leader of the movement.14 Yet once Ben-Gurion was firmly ensconced at the head of the movement, he sought to make political use of his former adversary's symbolic power and popularity in the Jewish and non-Jewish worlds, as part of the wider cause of building the new State. After the First World War, Weizmann achieved legendary status as Zionism's greatest statesman, praised for a unique ability to bridge the political worlds of Jews and Gentiles. This myth was based on the widely accepted belief that Weizmann played the central role in persuading the British Government to issue the Balfour Declaration of 2 November 19 17, which proclaimed their support for the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine.15 Incorporated in the text of the British Mandate for Palestine, which was approved by the League of Nations in July 1922, the Declaration became the legal basis for the Zionist move- ment's political claims in Palestine, as they were presented to Britain and the international community in the years prior to the establishment of the state in 1948. Weizmann's legend in Zionist culture, however, went well beyond the political achievements that were attributed to him. His legion of admirers in the Zionist and British political establishments praised him as the embodiment of a synthesis between the best of Western civilization and 13 Marks to Ben-Gurion, 23 May 1952, end. in Weisgal to Ben-Gurion, 4 June 1952, WISA 12- 75(3); Weisgal to Ben-Gurion, 2 March 1953, pp. 1-2, Weisgal Papers, WISA 12-90(316). 14 Shabtai Teveth, Ben-Gurion: The Burning Ground , 1886-1948 (Boston, 1987), chs. 41, 43, pp. 864-65, 870, 875. 15 See James Renton, "Reconsidering Chaim Weizmann and Moses Gaster in the Founding- Mythology of Zionism", in Nationalism , Zionism and Ethnic Mobilization of the Jews in igoo and Beyond , ed. Michael Berko witz (Leiden, 2004), 129-51. 31</page><page sequence="6">James Renton East European Jewish culture, which they pointed to as one of the principal reasons for his success as a Zionist statesman.16 Born in Motol in the Russian Empire, the Yiddish-speaking Weizmann was hailed as the authen- tic voice of the Jewish masses. As a scientist, he encapsulated for many Zionists and their non-Jewish supporters the self-professed European modernity and civilizing aspect of the Zionist project in Palestine. On the eve of the foundation of the state in 1948, these two facets of his mythical persona, and their interrelation, were at the forefront of his image as a Zionist icon, the perceived essence of his Zionism, and the basis of his legend as the shaliach am golah (emissary of an exiled people).17 In 1944, Felix Frankfurter, the American Zionist and member of the US Supreme Court, wrote: "Weizmann the scientist has outstripped the imagination of Kipling the poet. For Weizmann, rooted as he is in Eastern religion and Western scientific culture, proves that not only may East and West meet; they may become fused in a single person." And, he added, "Dr. Weizmann would be the first to insist that there is nothing unique about such fusion".18 The Weizmann icon was not only a figure of praise for many Zionists but also a totem who served to reflect their desired images of the movement, the nation and the future State. "He was", contended another American Zionist Weizmannite, Louis Lipsky, "the living embodiment of 'the state in the process of becoming'."19 In 1949 Weizmann's appointment as the first President of the State, a largely symbolic position, furthered his iconic significance for Zionism, which was a role that he came to resent, as he yearned for political authority.20 Ben-Gurion believed in the power of the Weizmann myth; he referred to the first President as "the nation's chosen one" ( b'chir ha'uma) and judged that the public of the new State of Israel had a "special relationship" with him.21 On the day of Weizmann's death, 9 November 1952, the Prime Minister gave to a standing Cabinet his own exposition of the Weizmann myth and the need for memorialization. He focused in particular on the integral role of science in Weizmann's Zionism and his political achieve- ments. The Prime Minister pronounced that "after Herzl no one emerged 16 See e.g. Meyer Weisgal, ed., Chaim Weizmann : Statesman , Scientist , Builder of the Jewish Commonwealth (New York, 1944). 17 Yigal Yadin, "Order of the Day from the Chief of the General Staff', Ba'Machane: Iton Chayalei Yisrael, 13 Nov. 1952, 6. 18 Felix Frankfurter, "Foreword", in Weisgal, Chaim Weizmann , 8. On Weizmann's images in pre-State Zionist culture, see also Michael Berko witz, Western Jewry and the Zionist Project , •9' 4-1933 (Cambridge, 1997), 32-37. 19 Louis Lipsky, "Weizmann - Bond Between Two Worlds", in Weisgal, Chaim Weizmann , 165. 20 Norman Rose, Chaim Weizmann: A Biography (London, 1987), 445-46. 21 Stenographic reports of Government of Israel meetings, 9 Nov. 1952, p. 2 and 16 Nov. 1952, p. 23, ISA. 32</page><page sequence="7">Yad Chaim Weizmann and the Westernness of Israel comparable to him [Weizmann]" and declared the need for "entire books" on Weizmann's significance. He explained that Weizmann's stature derived from the fact that he "bore on his head two crowns - a crown of political leadership 'malchut, literally kingdom] and a crown of learning [ Torah ] [:] he was head of the nation and the great man of science." Even when Weizmann was no longer President of the Zionist Organization, Ben- Gurion argued, he was "the first citizen of the Jewish people" and "symbol- ized the aspiration of the national movement". "His personality full of magic", the Prime Minister continued, "his blessed achievements over decades, his standing among the Jewish people and the civilized world made him, naturally, the chosen one of the nation." Just as Weizmann had obtained "world-recognition" in Jewish history, he had "captured for himself a position of glory in the scientific world". Weizmann's Zionist political work and his scientific endeavours were not, however, Ben-Gurion emphasized, separate. They were connected, and derived from a single source: "the Jewish spirit". The Prime Minister did not, therefore, present Weizmann the scientist as a symbol of the West's influence on Zionism, or a Western face of the movement, but as an icon of the Jewish essence of a science-based Zionism and state. Ben-Gurion went further with the theme of the confluence of Zionism and science, as personified by Weizmann. The latter knew, he stated, "the profound and simple truth" that "our life's renewal and our independence, the safety of our existence and our future, the building of our homeland and our culture will not be established . . . without the scientific pillar of our economic, settlement and educational enterprise". As such, "Weizmann saw his great scientific work as an organic and central part of his historical contribution to the establishment of the State of Israel." Even Weizmann's "greatest achievement in the area of international statesmanship - the Balfour Declaration, was not[,] as is well-known[,] disconnected from his scientific achievements". Ben-Gurion followed his oration on Weizmann and science with the assertion that the first President would be gathered into the pantheon - "the eternal life" - of the Hebrew nation, among the icons of ancient Israel: "the fathers, the judges, the prophets, the kings and the life- thread weavers of the nation over four thousand years".22 Ben-Gurion's lauding of the first President of Israel and the desire to promote his memory can be understood in part as a contribution to the general project of state-building, to which Ben-Gurion was passionately committed. Weizmann possessed tremendous symbolic power within Zionist culture. He was also Israel's first head of state and, as such, his passing constituted a major moment in the history of the fledgling nation. 22 Ibid., 9 Nov. 1952, pp. 2-3. 33</page><page sequence="8">James Renton Further, the linkage between Weizmann and the great figures of ancient Israel served to mark the continuity between the new state and the nation's past golden age. As with many Zionists, Ben-Gurion saw history as a crucial, didactic vessel of ideology and a powerful force that could be used to forge national consciousness and promote unity in the new state.23 In 1952, this was an urgent task; only four years old, the state faced manifold and profound challenges: thousands of new immigrants, economic hardship, internal political divisions and a conflict with its neighbours over its very existence. The memorialization of Zionism's preeminent modern-day hero and icon thus provided an important opportunity for Ben-Gurion and the rest of the Zionist leadership. In addition to this general picture, however, the specific focus of Ben- Gurion's Weizmann as an embodiment of Zionism's scientific basis had its own particular contexts and significance. Ben-Gurion, like many Zionists, judged that science was critical for the economic success and military security of the Zionist project.24 It was also, however, of great cultural and political significance. Since the inception of the Zionist movement, science stood, as mentioned above, as an important symbol of Zionism's modernity and civiliz- ing capacity, which, similar to European colonialisms, served to justify Zionist colonization. More importantly after the foundation of the state, science also signified the Zionist project's membership of the West, inwardly and exter- nally. In the aftermath of the destruction of the Second World War, science - as the preeminent agent of reconstruction and the key to future utopias - became synonymous for many around the world, on both sides of the Cold War divide, with societal and economic progress, though the late and post- Stalinist era Soviet Union also evinced ambivalence and hostility towards scientists and the intelligentsia, particularly the Jews who predominated among them.25 In Britain and the United States, intellectuals championed the intrinsic bond of science and liberal democracy, while in the US science was at the heart of an ascendant secular culture - a "scientific culture" - that was championed by, and benefited, Jews. This liberal secular scientific culture occluded the Christian religious barrier of difference that had predominated before the war and allowed Jews to enter the intellectual mainstream.26 Similarly, science and scientific culture provided the Jewish state with a secular marker and cultural-political field of activity through which it could show its membership of a liberal West, sidestepping the religious and racial 23 Eliezer Don-Yehiya, "Political Religion in a New State: Ben-Gurion's Mamlachtiyut", in Troen and Lucas. Israel , 179-83: Segev, Seventh Million , 328. 24 Tal, "Ben-Gurion's Teleologica! Westernism", 354-57. 25 Yuri Slezkine, The Jewish Century (Princeton, NJ, 2004), 305-14, 329-41. 26 David A. Hollinger, Science , Jews, and Secular Culture: Studies in Mid-Twentieth Century American Intellectual History (Princeton, NJ, 1996), chs. 1, 3, 5, 8. 34</page><page sequence="9">Yad Chaim Weizmann and the Westernness of Israel discourses of Western belonging that had historically precluded Jews from acceptance as individuals and communities in Europe and North America. In short, a secular scientific, rather than a Christian, West offered Israel a chance of real acceptance. Zionists did not formulate this vision of the West and their part in it in programmatic fashion, as a coherent, systematic ideological platform. The underlying principles, such as the intrinsic Westernness of science, were to them too self-evident. Instead, they spoke of the West and Israel's Westernness through a broad, shared language of assumed principles and associations. In this discourse, the general terms liberal, secular, scientific, modern and Western/European were somewhat interchangeable, function- ing as signs of each other and as shorthand for a particular type of civiliza- tion to which Israel could belong. A glaring unresolved tension in this discourse was the non-secular basis of Zionist culture and ideology, a prob- lematic highlighted by the need to demonstrate the historical cultural basis of Israel's Western character which inevitably required reference to a specifically Jewish religious tradition. It was also dependent on the conceit that "the West" could be divorced from Christianity and assumptions of Anglo-Saxon racial difference.27 Yet, as profound as these challenges might seem in retrospect, they appear not to have been a great concern for the Zionist mainstream amid the optimism of the postwar years, in which science and liberalism seemed to offer so much. In lieu of an alternative, the perceived benefits for Zionism of the idea of a liberal West, no matter how flawed, were just too significant and Zionists embraced it wholeheartedly. From the beginning of the 1950s, Israel's membership of the Western club became an urgent issue for the Zionist elite, principally because of foreign and defence policy considerations. Following the establishment of the State in 1948, the Government of Israel had pursued a policy of "non-identifica- tion" in the Cold War, favouring neither the West nor the Soviet Union, which it was thought would benefit Israel's political and economic interests. Nevertheless, as Avi Shlaim has argued, following the outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950 the Government of Israel began to move towards the West. This shift was caused, in particular, by a more critical Soviet line regarding Israel, the United States's increasing dissatisfaction with Israeli policy and growing tensions in the Middle East. Significantly, however, Ben-Gurion did not just seek to re-orientate Israel's position in international politics, with a pragmatic alliance with the West. Rather, he wished to estab- lish Israel's geopolitical position as a Western country. In April 1953, as part 27 On the presence of racial and Christian aspects in conceptions of the West after 1945 see Bonnett, Idea of the West , 42-44, 129-30. On Christianity and contemporary anti-antisemitism see Gil Anidjar, "When Killers Become Victims: Anti-Semitism and its Critics", Cosmopolis: A Review of Cosmopolitics 3 (2007). 35</page><page sequence="10">James Renton of the preparation for a visit to Israel by US Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, Ben-Gurion set out to senior officials the basis of his foreign policy, that Israel was a bastion of the West. These officials were asked to emphasize that Israel was a part of the West, not the Middle East. By the time of Weizmann's death in November 1952, however, Ben-Gurion had failed to secure an unequivocal open alliance with Britain or make headway with the United States. The governments of both powers judged the Arab world to be of great strategic significance in the Cold War, which precluded in their minds the possibility of a close relationship with Israel. By the time of Yad Weizmann's inauguration in November 1953, Israel's diplomatic position had not improved. Far from it: the United States refused to grant Israel a loan and condemned publicly a range of Israeli actions, such as the move of its Foreign Ministry from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.28 Without effective political leverage to advance Israel's membership of the West, the cultural sphere increased in significance as an arena in which to assert the Jewish state's claim to belonging. On that plane, the Weizmann icon, as a symbol of a Western Zionism, especially its scientific aspect, held tremendous political significance for Ben-Gurion and his Government. The need to identify Israel as a Western state explains why Ben-Gurion stressed to the Cabinet the Jewish inspiration of the late President's scien- tific and political achievements. For Ben-Gurion and others, as will be seen, it was imperative that the Weizmann icon reflected the inner Westernness of Zionism and the Jewish state. They wished to show that Israel was an inherent part of the civilized world that centred on Europe and North America, rather than an attempt at cultural mimicry. Weizmann, therefore, had to be shown as a reflection of the Jewish people and an expression of its culture, rather than an exception. The political significance of Weizmann as a symbol of Israel's scientific and thus Western basis helps to explain why Albert Einstein, long championed by Zionists as one of their own, despite his critical views of the movement,29 was invited to succeed him as the President of Israel. The fact that the latter turned down the offer30 only increased the importance of the Weizmann icon for the Jewish state. Although Ben-Gurion concentrated on the scientific dimension of the Weizmann icon, which was to be the central focus of Yad Weizmann, his whole legend served to project the narrative of an Israel firmly positioned within the West. His persona as the bridge to the West, the emissary who secured political recognition, support and emotional enthusiasm for Zionism in the shape of the Balfour Declaration, spoke of a Western-Zionist 28 Avi Shlaim, "Israel Between East and West, 1948-1956", International Journal of Middle East Studies 36, No. 4 (Nov. 2004), 658-63. 29 Ze'ev Rosenkranz, Einstein Before Israel: Zionist Icon or Iconoclast ? (Princeton, NJ, 201 1). 30 Jeremy Bernstein, Einstein (New York, 1973), 214. 36</page><page sequence="11">Yad Chaim Weizmann and the Westernness of Israel bond to which the Government of 1950s Israel aspired. The projection of a Western Zionism also had a domestic relevance in the early 1950s. In Israel the Ashkenazi governing elite was greatly concerned with the task of assimi- lating more than a quarter of a million non-European Jews who had arrived from Arab countries since 1948. Imbued with prejudiced assumptions regarding the inferiority of these immigrants and their Oriental culture, the European Zionist elite strove to Westernize them and establish unequivo- cally the Western character of the Jewish state.31 In short, by the time of Weizmann's death in 1952 his role as a totem of a Western Israel was of great political import for the Zionist establishment. The political function of Weizmann's symbolism for Zionism was articu- lated explicitly by Nahum Goldmann, the Chairman of the Executive of the Jewish Agency, in a speech to the Zionist Actions Committee in Jerusalem on 20 November 1952. Goldmann said: "The greatest significance of a man is not in what he has done, not even in what he has been, but in what his personality implies - the man's meaning as a pattern. ... It is as a symbol that he can continue to be as meaningful to future generations as he had been to his own generation." Weizmann, Goldmann argued, "symbolizes Zionism at its best, as a great moral idea which regenerated a people and liberated it politically". Even more significantly, he was "a symbol of Jewry's regeneration as a creative factor". As it faced the challenges ahead, Israel, Goldmann considered, "will require nothing more urgently than this symbol of Weizmann as a representative of creative Zionism, of the moral intuitions of the Zionist ideal". Hence, he suggested, "There is nothing we can wish more deeply for him and for ourselves than to capitalize, histori- cally speaking, on his symbolic implications and to use the Weizman symbol as a pattern and guide in striving to implement in the commodious frame- work of sovereign Israel, that fervent Zionism which he preached and lived and symbolized more dramatically, more intensely than any other Zionist leader of our generation."32 What Weizmann stood for in Goldmann's estimation was quite clear: "If the great problem in contemporary European Jewish history has been the synthesis of Eastern European Jewishness and Western European culture, and if Zionism in its contemporary form was the direct consequence of a fusion of the two traditions, which made it Jewish in substance and Western European in its political and organisational form, then Weizmann repre- sented in his person the most perfect synthesis of these two worlds . . ." As for values, Goldmann believed that Weizmann stood for the moral teach- ings of the Jewish prophets, of a state "great in a culture [sic] and moral 31 Tal, "Ben-Gurion's T eleological Westernism", 3 59-60. 32 Dr Nahum Goldmann address, Zionist Actions Committee, Jerusalem, 20 Nov. 1952, p. 7, WA. 37</page><page sequence="12">James Renton Plate i Blue Plaque honouring Chaim Weizmann (1874- 1952), erected by Manchester City Council in 1987. Jewish Museum, 190 Cheetham Hill Road, Manchester. Plate 2 The stamp issued in 1952. Plate 3 Bloomsbury house, 77 Great Russell Street, London, was the headquarters of the Zionist movement in Britain under the leadership of Weizmann. sense", and not the decisive importance of political and physical power; he "abhorred terror".33 Goldmann's portrayal of Weizmann as a moral figure reflected the school of thought in Israeli politics that emphasized diplomacy over military might, the so-called "moderates" that included the Foreign Secretary, Moshe Sharett, and Abba Eban, the Ambassador to the United Nations and the United States. Ben-Gurion, the champion of military facts on the ground, was their oppo- nent in this struggle, which came to the fore from the beginning of 1953. 34 Yet, despite this profound division, Goldmann and Ben-Gurion were united in their belief in Weizmann's symbolic potency and utility for the Zionist project and his signification of Israel's belonging to the West. The Cabinet of the Government of Israel approved Ben-Gurion's proposals for Yad Weizmann on 16 November 1952. 35 The importance attached by members of the Cabinet to Weizmann as an icon of the state can be seen in their decision to commemorate his death by issuing a stamp adorned by his image. In July 1952 the Cabinet had decided that faces of 33 Dr Nahum Goldmann address, Zionist Actions Committee, Jerusalem, 20 Nov. 1952, 2-4. 34 Avi Shlaim, The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World (London, 2000), 86-88. 35 Stenographic report of Government of Israel meeting, 16 Nov. 1952, p. 22, ISA. 38</page><page sequence="13">Yad Chaim Weizmann and the Westernness of Israel important personalities would not be put on Israeli stamps. This reflected the aversion to graven images in Jewish religious tradition. Weizmann, however, was judged to be a special case. To the Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Do v Yosef, who was concerned about setting a precedent, the Prime Minister simply responded that there was not going to be another first President of the State of Israel.36 Compromises could have been suggested, however, such as the printing of his name, rather than the use of an image. Nevertheless, Weizmann's symbolic standing in Zionist culture was such that his physical appearance had in itself become an emblem of all that he had come to represent; like Herzl before him, he was a veritable icon of the Zionist movement37 and as the first President of Israel he became the first icon of the Jewish state. Perhaps the most striking testimony to the weight given by the Government and the Zionist establishment to Weizmann's memorialization was the extent of their financial investment in the project. Despite the austerity conditions of the Jewish state in the early 1950s, the Government and the Jewish Agency Executive in Jerusalem pledged in February 1953 an initial sum of IL.(Israeli Lira) 1,000, 000 for the establishment of the memo- rial, which was increased by January 1954 to a total of IL. 1,800,000 over two and a half years, from April 1953 through September 1955. 38 In the same period the Jewish National Fund gave IL. 100,000. By 1959, the total cost of the Yad Weizmann complex reached approximately £1 1,000, 000, 39 though that figure was paid for thanks to major private donations as well as large- scale funding from the state and Zionist institutions. Reflecting the serious- ness of the Government's financial and political investment, Eshkol, who had become Finance Minister, continued as its representative on the plan- ning committee, once its work became official following Weizmann's death. In addition, Ben-Gurion's close associates Zeev Sherf, the Chief Secretary of the Government, and Teddy Kollek, the Director-General of the Prime Minister's office, attended the committee's meetings as observers and Weisgal reported directly to the Prime Minister. Weisgal and Ben-Gurion met in person to discuss the project in February 1953.40 The official committee was also expanded to include a senior member of the Jewish 36 Ibid. 37 Michael Berkowitz, The Jewish Self-image: American and British Perspectives , 1881-igjg (London, 2000), 53-70, 78-8 1 . 38 Weisgal to Ben-Gurion, 2 Mar. 1953, p. 7, Weisgal Papers, WIS A 12-90(316); Weisgal to Moshe Sharett, 1 Jan. 1954, p. 14 and App. I, Yad Chaim Weizmann Budget, Income and Expenditure, 1 Jan. 1954-30 Sept. 1955, end. in Weisgal to Amery, 24 Feb. 1954, Leopold Amery Papers, Churchill College Archive, Cambridge (CCA), AMEL 2/2/28, file 1. 39 Comment by Weisgal, Weizmann Archives Board of Trustees meeting, 4 May 1959, minutes p. 4, Isaiah Berlin Papers, Bodleian Library, Oxford (Berlin Papers), MS. Berlin 376. 40 Weisgal to Ben-Gurion, 2 Mar. 1953, pp. 4, 12, Weisgal Papers, WISA 12-90(316). 39</page><page sequence="14">James Renton Agency Executive, Zalman Shazar, and Ben-Gurion invited Sir Simon Marks to be President of what became the World Committee for the Weizmann Memorial, a body designed to engage with the many individuals outside Israel who wished to help establish a memorial, which would coop- erate with the planning committee. A British committee, headed by Israel Sieff, another member of the Anglo-Zionist elite, was also set up.41 The high cost of the Yad Weizmann complex stemmed in large part from the planning committee's decision to construct a grandiose landscape that signposted the importance of the President and the values which they wished to associate with his memory as a beacon to the state. This memorial area centred on pre-existing sites in Rehovot: the Weizmann presidential residence (Beit Weizmann), the Weizmann Institute of Science, the Sieff Research Institute and the Agricultural Station, the institution for agricul- tural research and training. To establish the memorial that the committee envisaged, they required the purchase of private land that lay between these sites. This more than doubled the size of the area to almost 1200 dunams. The Jewish National Fund eventually took ownership of the entire site, which thus became national property.42 The general plan for Yad Weizmann was to establish a "scientific and cultural centre, interspersed with woodlands, parks, shady walks and green open spaces". The governing principles of the committee were "Beauty, Utility and Permanence".43 As an icon for the Jewish state, the Committee judged the memorial's physical appearance, or in Weisgal's words "its aesthetic character", to be of the utmost importance. The plans were meant to echo what Weisgal described as "Weizmann's own concept of combining beauty with practicality in the enterprises which he sponsored and carried out in his lifetime"44 - a sensibility which, like Weizmann's residence in Rehovot (built in 1936 by the renowned expressionistic International Style architect Erich Mendelsohn), reflected an affinity to a stylized artistic European modernism, one that was markedly distinct from functionalist socialist modernism.45 The message of the physical style of Yad Weizmann went further, however. Weisgal explained to Ben-Gurion that in planning 41 Stenographic report of Government of Israel meeting, 16 Nov. 1952, pp. 20-21, ISA. For the membership of the World and British Committees, see end. in Sieff to Amery, 7 Oct. 1953, Amery Papers, CCA, AMEL 2/2/28, file 2. 42 The American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science, Chaim, Weizmann: His Scientific Legacy (New York, 1952), 24; Weisgal to Sharett, 1 Jan. 1954, pp. 3-5, 7, end. in Weisgal to Amery, 24 Feb. 1954, Amery Papers, CCA, AMEL 2/2/28, file 1. 43 Weisgal to Ben-Gurion, 2 Mar. 1953, p. 2, Weisgal Papers, WISA 12-90(316). 44 Ibid., p. 12. 45 On the contrast between Mendelsohn and socialist modernist architects in Mandate Palestine see Alona Nitzan-Shiftan, "Contested Zionism - Alternative Modernism: Eric Mendelsohn and the Tel Aviv Chug in Mandate Palestine", Architectural History 39 (1996): 147-80. 40</page><page sequence="15">Yad Chaim Weizmann and the Westernness of Israel the general character of the memorial the committee and their architects "kept foremost in mind the late Dr. Weizmann's lifelong vision of Science and the instruments of scientific inquiry serving the needs of a Jewish State". It was thus to their mind an aesthetic expression of, as well as a prac- tical contribution to, a science-based Zionism. The purpose of the project was, according to Weisgal, 'to perpetuate the memory of our first President in the spirit which inspired him throughout his life - the spirit of scientific advancement for the general good'.46 This rural idyll in which world-leading scientific research would be undertaken acted as a metaphor for one of the cardinal justifications of the Zionist project: the use of Western science to make the desert bloom. It was also just meant to be beautiful. The use of constructed green landscape as an expression of beauty reflected a certain West European modernist aesthetic that ran through the architecture and landscape of the memorial, which with its marble, glass, architectural lines and surrounding grounds was redolent of structures such as Le Corbusier's League of Nations palace in Geneva. For the designers of Yad Weizmann, this type of elegant expres- sionistic, one could say bourgeois, modernism appears to have been a visual metaphor for Western science and the scientific ethos. Weisgal might have been criticized in public at the time for building in "marble and glass" in the midst of Israel's age of austerity47 but it served the aim of producing a memorial that spoke of Israel's belonging among the ranks of other nations at the vanguard of a Western modernity. The design of Weizmann's tomb provided the opportunity to convey the Jewish content of this modernity. Engraved in the centre of the white marble tomb's façade lies the emblem of the Weizmann Institute of Science, crafted by Erich Mendelsohn in the 1930s: a tree, evoking the Jewish metaphor of religious learning as the "Tree of Life", secularized here as science, which is thus represented as a modern expression of traditional Jewish culture.48 While the style of the memorial had its own messages, the planning committee designed its overall topography chiefly as a stage on which the nation and its supporters could themselves voice and act out in elaborate fashion the significance and symbolism of the state's first President. The memorial included a number of places for public gathering to this end. Much more than a few points of assembly, however, the landscape of Yad Weizmann as a whole was designed as a grand site of pilgrimage. The opening architectural statement of the memorial was a large archway. At the entrance lay a square, a place of gathering, which opened onto a tree-lined avenue 1200 metres long and 6 metres wide which, in turn, led into a 46 Weisgal to Ben-Gurion, 2 Mar. 1953, pp. 10, 12, Weisgal Papers, WIS A 12-90(316). 47 Weisgal, Meyer Weisgal , p. 282. 48 Weizmann Institute of Science, The Weizmann House (Rehovot, n.d.), 25-26. 41</page><page sequence="16">James Renton Memorial Plaza. From the Plaza, the line of travel that commenced at the entrance culminated with a footpath to Weizmann's tomb.49 The intention of building a shrine to the state's first President, declared by Marks to Ben- Gurion, was thus realized in its most literal sense and served to fulfil the Prime Minister's desire to envelop Weizmann into the national pantheon of tzadikim , to whose tombs the faithful marched. The founders of Yad Weizmann demonstrated their desire for theatrical- ity from the moment that they publicly announced the project on 16 November 1952. The next day, after a service at Weizmann's graveside to mark the end of the initial seven-day period of mourning, Ben Gurion, in Weisgal's words, "consecrated Yad Chaim Weizmann", with the pro- nouncement of a single sentence: "This graveside will remain eternally a national shrine". The Prime Minister was accompanied by members of the Cabinet and the Executive of the Jewish Agency, the Acting President, the Army Chief of Staff, Weizmann's wife, Vera, and a host of other figures from the Zionist establishment.50 With the presence of such a cast, this spectacle communicated the significance of Weizmann's memory for the new state; the staging and the pathos of its performance voiced the desire for a theatre of remembrance and constituted a declaration of intent for Yad Weizmann. Tasked with the goal of projecting Weizmann's legacy, the planning committee's first and indeed urgent objective was to construct the basic ceremonial topography of the memorial area in time for the public marking of the first anniversary of Weizmann's death in November 1953. Due to budgetary delays, the short space of time and conflicts with the private owners of the land to be incorporated into the new site, this involved the use of temporary structures and materials. Yet with the "whole-hearted cooper- ation" of Golda Meir, the Minister for Labour, and her "entire staff', particularly the Public Works Department, the committee managed to construct a usable site within a period of six weeks, in time for November.51 That initial landscape did not match the long-term visions of the committee. The archway was a temporary structure made of beaver-board, rather than stone, and the Plaza was covered with heavy earth, instead of paving, with temporary wooden stages. In addition, the scale of the avenue was much reduced. The original plan envisaged a road 22 metres in width but was abandoned due to the conflict with local residents. Even so, the ramshackle site provided the planning committee with a stage on which 49 Weisgal to Sharett, 1 Jan. 1954, pp. 3, 5, end. in Weisgal to Amery, 24 Feb. 1954, Amery Papers, CCA, AMEL 2/ 2/ 28, file 1 . 50 Weisgal to Ben-Gurion, 2 Mar. 1953, pp. 4-5, Weisgal Papers, WISA 12-90(316); Jewish Telegraphic Agency Daily News Bulletin, 18 Nov. 1952, p. 3. 51 Weisgal to Sharett, 1 Jan. 1954, pp. 2-6, end. in Weisgal to Amery, 24 Feb. 1954, Amery Papers, CCA, AMEL 2/2/28, file 1. 42</page><page sequence="17">Yad Chaim Weizmann and the Westernness of Israel they could coordinate the first ceremonial performance of Weizmann's significance to the Jewish state. To that end, they established a sub-commit- tee consisting of Weisgal, Scherf and Kollek, dominated therefore by Ben- Gurion's office, to devise a programme of events. The end result was a carefully orchestrated and elaborate commemorative showpiece that was intended to be a public inauguration of Yad Weizmann - a display of its work and mission.52 Commencing on 29 October 1953, the six-day performance projected Weizmann's central significance to the state, through the participation of the entirety of the Israeli political establishment as principal actors, and the national society, as represented by the involvement of school children - a longstanding Zionist cultural practice which gave expression to the narra- tives of national renaissance and the New Jew, born and bred on the land.53 The religious tenor, style and repetitive rhythm of the ceremonies, particu- larly the ritual of pilgrimage to Weizmann's tomb, suggested a national, collective act of worship. The pilgrimages in particular equated to a nation- alist act of beatification. These ceremonies were accompanied by a week- long series of memorial programmes by the broadcasting services, newspaper supplements and cinema newsreels.54 The first two days of commemoration articulated the political signifi- cance of Weizmann and the memorial project. Weizmann's successor as President, Yitzhak Ben-Zvi, laid the cornerstone of Yad Weizmann and, following a torchlight procession by 500 members of Israeli youth organiza- tions, led a pilgrimage to the tomb. On the same day, Vera Weizmann inau- gurated Yad Weizmann and Paula Ben-Gurion unveiled Sderoth Yad Weizmann. On the second day, 30 October, Ben-Gurion delivered an address to a memorial assembly on the Memorial Plaza, chaired by Nahum Goldmann. The assembly featured recitals by a cantor, whose participation made the religious tone explicit, and a choir and culminated in another pilgrimage to the tomb, where the Israel Defence Force and the police mounted a guard of honour.55 In his address on the Memorial Plaza, Ben-Gurion voiced what he felt to be "the truth" of Weizmann, as he saw it. He presented Weizmann as the encapsulation of authentic Jewishness, by comparing him to the Viennese assimilated Jew of Herzl. The "exact opposite" of Herzl in a number of "essential respects", Weizmann was, Ben-Gurion argued, "first and foremost 52 Ibid., p. 8. 53 See James Renton, The Zionist Masquerade: The Birth of the Anglo-Zionist Alliance, 1Ç14-1Q18 (Basingstoke, 2007), 1 14-118, 1 19. 54 Weisgal to Sharett, 1 Jan. 1954, p. 12, end. in Weisgal to Amery, 24 Feb. 1954, Amery Papers, CCA, AMEL 2/2/28, file i. 55 Ibid., p. il. 43</page><page sequence="18">James Renton 2Ljen&gt;ish]vN . . . bred in the lap of Judaism, amongst the masses of Israel". It was Weizmann's "inward and Messianic tie with the Land of Israel" that made him "the greatest Jewish emissary to the gentile world". Ben-Gurion finished his hagiography of the late President with a summation of his symbolic significance as "the shining example in our times of the vitality, the creativeness, and the prolific which were contained among the Jewish masses in Eastern Europe": He was a rare example of the synthesis of the Jewish spirit with the highest European culture of our times. In himself he blended vision and fulfilment to a degree achieved by none before him. He was the finest envoy from the Jewish people who had gone to the peoples of Europe and America. He was the man of spirit and of science, who not only understood the value of science in the resurgence of Israel and the creation of our new life, but who had himself made a tremendous contribution to scientific advancement, laying the foundations in this country for its institutions of higher learning - the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the Weizmann Institute in Rehovoth. Ben-Gurion thus portrayed Weizmann as the preeminent conduit between the Jewish people and the West because of, not in spite of, his profound Jewishness. As the apotheosis of the East European Jew, Weizmann's synthesis of the Jewish spirit with European culture, and his conception of a science-based Israel, could not be viewed as anathema to Jewish culture. Rather, they constituted the authentic face of modern Jewry and the State of Israel. Arguably, it was for this reason that Weizmann the icon was impor- tant to Ben-Gurion and why he concluded his oration with a similar senti- ment to that with which he finished his speech to the Cabinet as they stood on their feet in reverence on the day of Weizmann's death: "Weizmann's place in Jewish history is alongside the great rulers and kings of old". On the Memorial Plaza, however, he went further and lauded Weizmann as "the foremost artificer of our sovereign statehood in these times". Ben-Gurion concluded: "He will be as a light for the Jewish people until the end of their days." Spoken in English, these words, along with the rest of the speech, were a proclamation to the wider Western world of Israel's character as a state guided by Weizmann's example.56 Following these ceremonial acts of prelude, almost of sanctification and benediction, the memorial programme went on to elaborate on the themes of Weizmann's importance for Israel, as set out by the Prime Minister. The message was emphatic: the State's first President represented the bond between Zionism and the wider West, a relationship that was to be continued in his memory. As the greatest endorsement of Weizmann's embrace by the 56 Address by David Ben-Gurion, 30 oct. 1953, WA. 44</page><page sequence="19">Yad Chaim Weizmann and the Westernness of Israel West, the Zionist myth of the Balfour Declaration stood by itself as an histor- ical monument. As such, the 36th anniversary of the Declaration, rather than the date of Weizmann's passing, was the fulcrum around which the order of commemorative events was organized. On the eve of that date, 1 November, Moshe Sharett was scheduled to deliver the first Weizmann memorial lecture, "Weizmann, the Jewish Ambassador to the Gentile World", and Nahum Goldmann the second, "Weizmann's Conception of Zionism and the State".57 They spoke in the hall of the Jewish Agency building in Jerusalem where Weizmann took the oath of office as the first President of Israel,58 suggesting a linear, climactic narrative that began with his achieve- ment of the Declaration and culminated in the foundation of the state. On 2 November a memorial assembly of Israeli schoolchildren took place in Rehovot, followed again by a procession to the tomb, while the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, held a special memorial session, with a tribute deliv- ered by the Speaker of the House, Joseph Sprinzak. Religious services were held on the eve and day of the anniversary of his death itself.59 The day after the anniversary of the Declaration was devoted to science. Israel's Chief Rabbi, Dr I. H. Herzog, recited the prayer of dedication for the new Department of Experimental Biology at the Weizmann Institute, in the Isaac Wolfson Building. For the organizers of the commemoration, the scientific aspect superseded the explicitly Zionist and Jewish dimension. First and foremost, the first anniversary was to be linked, they decided, to the "fulfilment" of two of Weizmann's aspirations: the use of scientific research as a "principal instrument" in "forging the sound development" of the state, and, as they put it, reciprocating the hospitality to scientists outside Israel experienced by Jewish scientists in the Diaspora. Both these aims were achieved by bringing world-leading Western scientists to Israel for the celebrations. The calibre of those involved made a clear statement of the importance of science to the young state and its ambition to be at the forefront of specifically Western scientific research. Three Nobel Prize winners participated. One of them, the great Danish physicist professor Niels Bohr, helped to lay the cornerstone of the Physics Institute Building and gave an address as part of the memorial programme. The following month, Professor Sir Robert Robinson of the University of Oxford, the former President of the Royal Society and a Nobel Prize winner in chem- istry, gave the first annual series of Weizmann memorial lectures on "Structural Relations of Natural Products", which were later published by 57 Programme of ceremonies, end. in Sieff to Amery, 7 Oct. 1953, Amery Papers, CCA, AMEL 2/2/28, file 2. 58 Weisgal to Sharett, 1 Jan. 1954, p. 1 1, end. in Weisgal to Amery, 24 Feb. 1954, Amery Papers, CCA, AMEL 2/2/28, file i. ** Ibid., pp. 11-12. 45</page><page sequence="20">James Renton the Clarendon Press of Oxford. All the visiting scientists, of which there were six, accepted honorary fellowships of the Weizmann Institute and the three Nobel Prize winners, the other being Professor Ernst B. Chain, the co-discoverer of penicillin, all joined the World Committee for the Weizmann Memorial.60 None of them came from countries outside Western Europe and North America. The expansion of the Weizmann Institute remained a central element in the work of Yad Weizmann after the first anniversary. For the immediate future, the memorial focused on capital investment and the completion of the architecture of the memorial space, including the building of the Institute of Physics. In January 1954, the projected income of the memorial until September 1955 consisted of IL.2,690,000. IL.790,000 of this sum had been pledged by individual donors in Britain, approached privately by the World Committee. Significantly, some of the biggest donors insisted that their investment be earmarked for direct spending on scientific work.61 The British Committee promoted the Weizmann Institute as "a living memo- rial". It quoted Ben-Gurion's testimony that Weizmann "recognised the profound but simple truth that the renewal of our life and our independ- ence, the security of our existence and its future, the consolidation of our homeland and our culture, all depend on science as the foundation of the structure which we are building". The Institute required development if it was to "play its full part in the world of science" and apply this knowledge to the "needs of Israel". This required "suitably equipped" Departments of Physics and Experimental Biology, infrastructure development and facili- ties for overcoming the Institute's "remoteness" from other scientific centres, with the means to maintain connections with Europe and America. In short, the "living memorial" of the Institute was to ensure Israel's posi- tion as an outpost of science-based development, tied to the West. To that end, Yad Weizmann initiated a scheme, proposed by Ben-Gurion, to provide 78 exchange fellowships, one for each year of Weizmann's life.62 The politics of this endeavour for Israel was clear to Weisgal, who perhaps played up to government concerns: "The stay here of Professor Bohr", he wrote to the new Prime Minister Moshe Sharett in January 1954, "is of great political significance to the cause of Israel generally."63 60 Ibid., pp. 8-1 1 ; World Committee for Weizmann Memorial, membership list, end. in Sieff to Amery, 7 Oct. 1953, Amery Papers, CCA, AMEL 2/2/28, file 2. 61 Weisgal to Sharett, 1 Jan. 1954, p. 14 and App. I, end. in Weisgal to Amery, 24 Feb. 1954, Amery Papers, CCA AMEL 2/2/28, file 1. 62 British Committee for Weizmann Memorial, "The Weizmann Institute as a Living Memorial", Oct. 1953, end. in Sieff to Amery, 7 Oct. 1953, Amery Papers, CCA, AMEL 2/2/28, file 2; Weisgal to Sharett, 1 Jan. 1954, pp. 8, 12-13, and App. I, end. in Weisgal to Amery, 24 Feb. 1954, ibid., file i. 63 Weisgal to Sharett, 1 Jan. 1954, p. 10, ibid. 46</page><page sequence="21">Yad Chaim Weizmann and the Westernness of Israel Little debate existed, therefore, in Yad Weizmann and among its part- ners in the Diaspora as to the importance of the Institute or how its work should progress; that was a matter for scientists. The role of Yad Weizmann was to provide the infrastructure, public profile and the funding. The other face of Yad Weizmann, the cultural commemoration of Weizmann's contri- bution to Zionism and the State of Israel, did not involve the same degree of certainty. Beyond question was the importance of the Balfour Declaration and in 1954 the Government of Israel made 2 November "Weizmann Day", the official annual day of commemoration. It was the only day in the State of Israel's calendar not determined by the Jewish dating system.64 Already in its second year, Weisgal wrote that Weizmann Day had become "one of the outstanding events in the public life of this country, and is the occasion for the meeting of distinguished guests from all parts of the world".65 On that day, Yad Weizmann continued to hold a memorial lecture that related to Zionist history, alongside one on science. However, beyond this annual event, the institutional framework and scope for cultural commemoration was not clarified for some time. In the first year of planning, proposals included a Weizmann Museum of Zionist history and a "Museum of Jewish contributions to Science through the ages". Weisgal suggested to Ben- Gurion that the latter would be "important from the national-political no less than the scientific standpoint".66 From 1955, Vera Weizmann and Boris Guriel, the Curator of the Weizmann Archives that had been set up in Rehovot, wished to go much further and establish a political and historical research foundation, known as "Weizmann House", which would focus on international affairs, along the lines of institutions such as Chatham House in the UK. According to Guriel, this centre would perpetuate what he considered to be the Weizmann political school of thought and "may serve in the first line the foreign policy of our State".67 Nothing came of these proposals, however. Vera Weizmann and Guriel failed to elicit sufficient support for the "Weizmann House" idea, which would have involved substantial resources for what was an overtly political project,68 and the museums were not taken up. Instead, Weisgal and his colleagues came to focus their attention by the end of the 1950s on the 64 Ibid., p. 15; Weisgal, Meyer Weisgal , 297-98. 65 Weisgal to Berlin, 1 1 Sept. 1955, Bodl. MS. Berlin 287. 66 Weisgal to Ben-Gurion, 2 Mar. io^, p. 12, Weisgal Papers, WISA 12-00(116). 67 Boris Guriel, "Weizmann Archives", Aug. 1955, Lewis Namier Papers, Central Zionist Archives (CZA) A3 12/48; Vera Weizmann to Isaiah Berlin, 30 Apr. 1959, Bodl. MS. Berlin 1 56; "Memorandum: 'The Weizmann House' - Research Institute for International Affairs", Rehovot, i Apr. 1959, Bodl. MS. Berlin 376. 68 Berlin to Vera Weizmann, 4 May 1959, Bodl. MS. Berlin 1 57; Guriel to Berlin, 21 Apr. 1959, MS. Berlin 156; Berlin to Guriel, 28 Apr. 1959, MS. Berlin 1 56; Weizmann Archives Board of Trustees meeting, 4 May 1959, pp. 2-4, MS. Berlin 376. 47</page><page sequence="22">James Renton Weizmann Archives project: the gathering and publication of Weizmann's private papers, the first edition of which was finally published in 1968.69 Similar to the proposed museums, the goal of the Archives project was to mediate the cultural essence and significance of Weizmann's life for Zionism and the Jewish people; in WeisgaPs words, Weizmann's papers constituted his "Zionist and scientific legacy to the Jewish people".70 Reflecting the janus face of Yad Weizmann's mission, projecting in to Israel and out to the West, the papers were published in both Hebrew and English. Isaiah Berlin, a key figure in the planning for the papers project, believed that the publication of Weizmann's writings had clear political benefits for the Jewish state. In 1959 he judged that, along with other types of publications, "the books and speeches and works of Dr. Weizmann" would be useful material for training journalists, historians and diplomats in Israel and would provide "a proper background to ideas about Israel" to opinion-formers in the world, "whose views matter so very greatly in our affairs". "Small and precarious countries like Israel", Berlin contended, "need both to be and to seem virtuous to the world".71 For Berlin, the preeminent Cold War champion of liberalism, Weizmann personified that virtuousness.72 Many might assume that Ben-Gurion and Berlin, along with his fellow liberal Weizmannites, held completely different pictures of what a virtuous Israel would look like and were working at cross purposes. Berlin certainly considered the militarist Ben-Gurion to pose a grave threat to Weizmann's liberal legacy.73 Also, Weisgal and Abba Eban, who was the President of the Weizmann Institute from 1959 to 1966 and a member of the Weizmann Archives Board of Editors, wished to rectify what they saw as the erasure of Weizmann from the historical record of the creation of Israel, which, by 1969, Weisgal blamed squarely on Ben-Gurion. He claimed that this falsifi- cation of history, as he saw it, was "the most important" motivating factor for all those who had worked on the publication of the Weizmann papers.74 Eban saw this at least in part as a political fight. In an oblique reference to Ben-Gurion's influence on the state, he wrote to Weisgal in 1962 that the 69 See Meyer Weisgal, "General Foreword", in The Letters and Papers of Chaim Weizmann , Series A, Vol. i, ed. Leonard Stein, in collaboration with Gedalia Yogev (London, 1968), pp. ix-xvii; list of Board of Trustees and Editorial Board, n.d. [c. 1961], Bodl. MS. Berlin 376, fol. 42; Guriel, Weizmann Archives Report of Activities forjan. 1958 to Apr. 1962, Box 1, Weizmann Papers Project, WA; Weizmann Archives Editorial Board meeting minutes, 15 Apr. 1962, Bodl. MS. Berlin 376. 70 Weisgal to Sharett, 1 Jan. 1954, p. 8, end. in Weisgal to Amery, 24 Feb. 1954, Amery Papers, CCA, AMEL 2/2/28, file i. 71 Berlin to Alec Lerner, 2 Mar. 1959, Bodl. MS. Berlin 1 56. 72 See Isaiah Berlin, Chaim Weizmann (London, 1958). 73 Dubnov, Isaiah Berlin , 183. 74 Weisgal to Marcus Sieff, 14 July 1969, Bodl. MS. Berlin 378. 48</page><page sequence="23">Yad Chaim Weizmann and the Westernness of Israel historical issues surrounding the creation of the state, and the occlusion of Weizmann's role, "are having an effect on Israel's political and moral climate today . Dai Vchakima birmiza [a word to the wise is enough]."75 Despite this personalized political struggle, however, the initial collabo- ration between Ben-Gurion and the late President's followers in the forma- tion of Yad Weizmann suggests that they shared an underlying consensus, taken for granted by many, regarding the big question of Israel's political essence, broadly defined, and its place in the world as an inherent part of the liberal West. Certainly, there were major differences between their concep- tions of liberalism and a liberal Israel, which were reflected in the distinction between Berlin's praise for Weizmann as the ultimate moderate versus Ben- Gurion's depiction of him as a defiantly immoderate "man of action".76 Yet these differences, important as they were, should not be allowed to obscure the profound commonalities on a broad ideological level that Ben-Gurion, Berlin and many other Zionists shared regarding the interlinked projects of a Western Israel and Yad Weizmann. As this article has shown, in the early 1950s Ben-Gurion, his Govern- ment, the Zionist establishment and Weizmann's close supporters were unified in their desire to promote Weizmann's memory. Led by Ben- Gurion, the Government, in particular, played a crucial role in the estab- lishment of Yad Weizmann. As Weisgal asserted to the Board of Trustees of the Weizmann Archives in 1959, the "entire Yad Weizmann complex" had been established "with the pleasant cooperation of the Government", who had afforded the project "every possible aid".77 The Weizmann icon helped the Government of the fledgling Jewish state to project to its own popula- tion and the world the type of country that they were building. Weisgal and Ben-Gurion, the principal founders of the memorial, believed that science and its central role in Zionism and the State of Israel had to be at the heart of Yad Weizmann and the message that it gave to Israelis and the world. This was not just an exercise in showing Israel's commitment to science or even modernity. Rather, the architects of the memorial project sought to demon- strate that the scientific endeavour, as a synonym for Western civilization, was an inherent part of Jewish culture and Israel, and that the Jews and Israel were therefore an inherent part of the liberal West. It was for this reason, arguably, that Ben-Gurion and others strove to depict Weizmann as the ultimate "Jewish Jew" as well as the great scientist, and the connection between the two. Similarly, the emphasis on Weizmann's Jewishness gave the Balfour 75 Eban to Weisgal, 25 Feb. 1962, Biography by Several Hands, File 16a, WA. 76 Berlin, Chaim Weizmann; Ben-Gurion address, 30 oct. 1953, WA. 77 Weizmann Archives Board of Trustees meeting minutes, 4 May 1959, p. 4, Bodl. MS. Berlin 376. 49</page><page sequence="24">James Renton Declaration its continued potency as a symbol of Israel's connection with the rest of the West: it signified the West's embrace not just of Weizmann but of the Jewish people, whom he not only represented but embodied. Thus, Weizmann Day, the emblem of the Weizmann Institute on Weizmann's tomb and the visits of Nobel Prize winners to the late President's memorial were all of a piece: they conveyed Israel's politico- cultural location within the West. This task was of great significance to the governing elite of Israel and the Zionist movement in the 1950s. As a new post-colonial country that stood without firm allies in the midst of the Cold War, and in a region of hostile neighbours, the prospect of Israel being accepted by the West as one of its own held out tremendous benefits. Yad Weizmann stands as testimony to the Zionist longing for that acceptance. During the 1960s, the importance of the Weizmann icon faded in Israel and by the 1970s his legend had become more a matter of historical interest than of contemporary Zionist politics and culture. This transition could be explained by the Jewish state's establishment of its scientific credentials during this period and the attainment of a more secure relationship with the West, if not the desired recognition of Israel as an unequivocal part of the West. It is arguable, however, that the decline of Weizmann's significance in Israel stemmed from the essence of what had made him important to the state in the first place and was inevitable: the very nature of his role as a symbol of contemporary Westernness meant that his iconic edifice could only ever have a limited shelf-life. The more distant in time Weizmann the historical figure became, the less he could be said to signify a country at the forefront of a liberal Western modernity. Hence, within a relatively short period after Weizmann's memory was celebrated with such fanfare, Zionists had to look elsewhere for icons that endorsed their claim to membership of the Western club. So</page></plain_text>