Government Administration and Public Policy
There is a story, probably apocryphal, that Ben-Gurion decided to examine the economic feasibility of his vision to transform the Negev into a luxuriant garden region. Because the Negev was empty and constituted about half the area of the state, Ben-Gurion believed it had to absorb many of the new immigrants. "Conquest of the desert" thus became a central policy goal in Ben-Gurion's concept of the Zionist enterprise. He and his family moved from Tel Aviv to Sde Boker, a kibbutz in the northern part of the Negev, to provide a personal example. To assess the cost and identify the means by which to realize his vision, Ben-Gurion assembled a committee of experts who studied the issue. The experts recommended against pursuit of this farreaching goal, but Ben-Gurion refused to accept their advice. He assembled another committee, which arrived at similar conclusions. A third commission was formed--this one made up of international scientists--and again the answer was negative. Ben-Gurion nonetheless continued to pursue the vision and to emphasize the centrality of the desert in the development of the new state.
The story illustrates the determination of some Israeli policymakers to overcome obstacles in spite of unfavorable odds and, in this case, against the recommendations of scientists. When all rational methods used to arrive at a decision had failed, imaginative decisions were taken based on vision, intuition, experience, emotions, and faith. For Ben-Gurion and some of his successors, extra-rational decisions that had unexpected outcomes became