Blossoming Ben Gurion
In 1964, Rev. Dorr Coxon drove toward Israel with his family.
“What if they don’t let us in?” His wife Lola pointed to stamps in her passport from Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan—nations sworn to finish what Hitler had started.
“After we came all this way?” Coxon’s sister Beulah spluttered. “They have to let us in.”
Rev. Coxon gave a heavy sigh and pursed his lips. He drove through Gilead and crossed the Jordan River on the Allenby Bridge into Jericho.
As the car climbed to Jerusalem, he took a white-knuckle grip on the wheel. At the Mandelbaum Gate, Coxon inched the car across 150 feet of no-man’s-land between yard-high concrete cones strung with rusted barbed wire. He pulled up at the Israel border and wiped the sweat from his palms.
The guard frowned at their passports. Would he refuse them entry?
While family members held their breaths, Rev. Coxon stepped out of the car and smoothed his clothes. “Sir, we came overland because we can’t afford plane tickets. It was the only way we could get to Israel.” He looked straight into the man’s eyes. “Israel is the whole purpose of our trip. You must—please let us enter Israel.”
The guard leaned into the car and studied faces. In the front seat, Coxon’s wife and sister in their forties. In the back, his son, DeWayne; daughter, Delphine; and son-in-law, Dave—in their twenties. Did this family pose a danger?
He glanced at the Jordanian machine guns behind them, stepped back, and waved them through.
Everyone breathed easy as Rev. Coxon drove through Jerusalem and headed into the Negev in search of the home of Prime Minister David Ben Gurion.
Twelve years before, when Ben Gurion had visited the fields, tents, and single hut of a kibbutz on Highway 40, he remarked how irrigating crops in the desert was a great service to the nation. From Jerusalem, he sent a letter confiding his “jealousy” of their humble lifestyle.
The next year, Ben Gurion and his wife joined the kibbutz and moved into the hut. He said he wished to lend his personal example to reclaiming the desert. Was he following the Israel Defense Forces doctrine that officers lead into battle? The Prime Minister confessed to journalists this remote desert outpost allowed him to disconnect from the pressures of his office in Jerusalem.
South of Beersheba Rev. Coxon braked at a lonely driveway curving in from the east. He spoke with the soldier posted at the intersection.
“Is this Kibbutz Sde Boker?” (s-DAY boh-CARE)
“Yes. Is Sde Boker. Want see Ben Gurion?” (BEN-goo-ree-YŎH)
Rev. Coxon blinked and squinted at the Israeli pronunciation. “The Prime Minister?”
The soldier pointed to a short bald man coming into view around the curve. Tufts of white hair stood out over both ears. “Ben Gurion is stepping.”
The family got out of the car and waited with the soldier.
Two muscular body guards a head taller than the Prime Minister strode at his flanks. They wore slacks and leather shoes with a good shine, and they approached with smiles.
“We’re Christians from America,” Coxon announced. He did not mention Ben Gurion’s office had connected him with Christians in Jerusalem. What Prime Minister answers his own mail?
Ben Gurion’s smile spread across his face. “Welcome to Israel! I hope you enjoy your stay.”
“May we take your picture?”
They dove for their cameras in the car.
When the family members emerged, the guards had lost their smiles. They blocked the view of the Prime Minister. With lips parted, they squinted at the Americans and aimed Uzis at the ground six feet in front of Rev. Coxon.
The family members offered timid smiles and held up their cameras.
Mr. Ben Gurion peeked between guards and laughed. “Picture? This looks like pictures.”
His guards lowered their guns and lifted their smiles.
Rev. Coxon eased forward.
The family crowded around the Prime Minister.
Ben Gurion shook hands with each person and smiled into every camera. Then he said farewell and directed his strides back toward his desert outpost.
Rev. Coxon and his family spent two weeks in Israel and took the boat from Haifa to Athens, back across Europe, and home to Michigan via Icelandic Airline’s $316 round-trip tickets.
Eighteen years later and seventy-five kilometers across the desert from Ben Gurion’s kibbutz, Rev. Coxon’s son DeWayne led a group of solar engineers to Kibbutz Ir Ovot, where he helped found Blossoming Rose and develop Biblical Tamar Park.
by David Warner Parks, Ph.D.