Visitors step into transit camps that served as homes to hundreds of thousands of immigrants from Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The images give a sense for the immigration experience and dire dwelling circumstances of the 1950’s. The massive resettlement of immigrants into agricultural developments and towns present both the achievements and shortcomings of the solutions, giving voice to the sadness, displacement and difficulties experienced by new members of Israeli society. Typical slogans and quotations of Ben Gurion and other statesmen provide deeper meaning to the idealism versus reality of the times.
Also illustrated is the growth of industry and infrastructure: stories of road construction, water projects and rural electrification, including the construction of the National Water Carrier. Beyond the construction, are images of Israelis from diverse cultures and backgrounds, illustrating the contrast between the more established settlers and relative newcomers. The exhibit’s sound is comprised of songs, plays, music and poetry of the era, representative of the diverse cultures within Israeli society.
The exhibit culminates in the events leading up to the 1967 war. On one side, images and text reflect the anxiety experienced by the military build-up of Jordan, Syria and Egypt as they prepared for confrontation with Israel. On the other side, Israel prepares to defend herself, amassing arms and troops. The final panel describes Rabin’s role as Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces on the eve of the Six-Day War.