APRIL 8, 1959
LONDON—When we were in Jerusalem we went down into the tombs from which have been excavated the 71 members of the Great Sanhedrin, which dates back to antiquity. After looking at these excavations, we decided that the nicest thing about them was that the land around was being turned into a playground for children and that trees were planted there and that the view out over the valley was really beautiful.
All the desire that people had for permanent graves buried deep in the rock so that they would not deteriorate fast seems to me so foolish.
I would rather be out in the open, with the sky above me where my early remains can disappear rapidly. For my spirit, I am sure, will enjoy the soft rains and the sunshine and the white snow in winter and the fact that children can play happily in the garden.
From there we proceeded to the zoo, which is a Biblical zoo and includes all the animals that are mentioned in the Bible. Nina at once went to look for the camel that we had bought and which it now develops we may not be able to bring home with us. Unfortunately, there was some kind of celebration in the town and the camel had been loaned for the day to entertain the children.
If Nina's camel, which she named Duchess, ever does reach the United States—with the beautiful saddle given to us by Sheik Suleiman of Beersheba—I am sure it will give much pleasure to many children in the neighborhood.
After our visit to the zoo I returned to the hotel to keep my appointment with Queen Elizabeth of the Belgians. She is just as full of life and interest as she was when I saw her last year in Brussels. She had already visited one of the children's villages and, just as happened to her in Russia, she fell in love with the children and wanted to embrace them all.
She is a lovely person who makes friends wherever she goes, and I heard nothing but praise from everyone who had the opportunity to meet her. I told her that on our return from Tel Aviv late the night before the bellboy tried to take us into her suite but evidently the key refused to open the door—and we discovered we were on the wrong floor. She laughed heartily and said she would have been glad to see me that much sooner!
Late that same afternoon we went along with several other people to tea with Prime Minister and Mrs. David Ben-Gurion. Mrs. Ben-Gurion is wonderful in her care of her husband, and what a remarkable man he is! His eyes snap as though he were a young man when he is talking about something he is vitally interested in, and he gives you a feeling of resourcefulness, courage and flexibility in his thinking, which is quite extraordinary.
At dinner that night with Mrs. Golda Meir, the Foreign Minister, I had the pleasure of meeting several members of the government, among them the Minister of Education. They all seemed to possess strong personalities, with good qualities of leadership, and this perhaps is the distinguishing feature that accounts for their success in meeting problems that must at times seem insoluble.