A Man of Precision
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A Man of Precision

By Fern Marja

New York Post, February 7, 1954


By exchanging the bluff brilliance of David Ben-Gurion for the suave diplomacy of Moshe Sharett, Israel has signified it is ready to come of age. For the two men are nothing less than human symbols of the divergent forces that were leashed together in the creation of the Jewish homeland:

B.G., Israel’s first prime minister, is a silver-haired warrior, a stubborn visionary, an erudite individualist who carved the tiny state out of the unyielding granite of history without regard for the tender and often ambivalent emotions of the World’s great powers.

Sharett, the new premier, was Ben Gurion’s polished right arm throughout the pioneer years. But where the senior statesman was indifferent to Israel’s status in the family of nations, Sharett, lucid, witty, urbane, with a nervous impatience that conceals a fundamental caution, is acutely sensitive to the international climate. His success in establishing a coalition government after Ben Gurion’s resignation may foreshadow a new era when Israeli foreign policy dons the traditional velvet glove.

It is no accident that Moshe Sharett long ago was chosen to represent his people at the conference table. His is the instinctive outlook of the ambassador. By inclination and training, he is happiest when pitting logic and rhetoric against the political strategists of other countries.

What qualifies him for his present role is an ability to take crisis in stride. The United Kingdom mandate over Palestine gave Sharett notable opportunity to sharpen his administrative skills on the wily British Lion. Today even his Arab opponents salute him as a master of the emergency situation.

Confronted with setbacks in the global arena, he produces a deceptive wistfulness and a swift upsurge of intensity that frequently undermine his protagonists. He is not unaware of his achievements.

“I have never failed,” he once confided to an intimate. “I have not always succeeded, but I have never failed.”

Yet he has disciplined himself to meet unexpected reversals with ’calm and quiet. After one upheaval at the United Nations that almost aborted embryonic Israel, Sharett merely told his downcast aides, “Remember this day, boys and girls,” before mustering up a smile that contained genuine gaiety. It was only later, after he had pushed through to victory, that he had time to pamper a recalcitrant ulcer.

An admiring UN observer remarked recently, “When Sharett looks sad it is impossible to tell whether it is because of something that happened a minute ago or 2,000 years ago.”

Short, poised, articulate in eight languages, with shining dark eyes, gray-black hair and a warmly paternal manner, he alternates between easy affability and acidulous irritability. Characteristically, however, he exhibits the latter only before his< ...

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