JERUSALEM (Aug. 23)
American Jews, as a community and as individuals, have only one political attachment and that is to the United States, Premier David Ben Gurion of Israel today declared here.
The Premier made this declaration at a luncheon in honor of Jacob Blaustein, president of the American Jewish Committee. Mr. Blaustein was invited to visit Israel by the Premier so that he could clarify certain aspects of the relations between Israel and American Jews for the benefit of both groups. Among the distinguished guests at today’s affair were various Cabinet Ministers, Berl Locker, chairman of the Jewish Agency executive in Jerusalem, and U.N. Chief of Staff Gen. William E. Riley.
After praising the material and political support of American Jewry and their “warm hearted and practical idealism” which, he said, has been one of the principal sources of Israel’s strength and success, the Premier said that certain misunderstandings about the relations between American Jewry and Israel are “likely to alienate sympathies and create disharmony where friendship and close cooperation are of vital importance.”
He pointed out that from the earliest days of its existence “the government clearly stated without any reservation that the state of Israel represents and speaks only in behalf of its own citizens, and in no way presumes to represent or speak in the name of Jews who are citizens of any other country. We people of Israel,” he continued, “have no desire or intention to interfere in any way in the internal affairs of the Jewish communities abroad.
“The government fully respects the right of integrity of Jewish communities in other countries to develop their own mode of life and their indigenous social, economic and cultural institutions in accordance with their own needs and aspirations,” the Premier said. He expressed the hope that American Jewry will continue to extend its support and assistance to its brethren abroad, and added that any weakening of American Jewry, any diminution of its status would be a definite loss for the Jews everywhere and for Israel, in particular.
SAYS ISRAEL DEPENDS ON STRENGTH OF U.S. JEWRY; DEFINES STAND ON CHALUTZIM
“We are happy to know of the deep and growing interest which American Jews of all shades and convictions take in what has fallen to us to achieve in this country,” Premier Ben Gurion continued. “Were we, God forbid, to fail in what we have undertaken, the failure would cause grievous pain to Jews everywhere and nowhere more than in your community. Our success or failure depend in a large measure on our cooperation with and on the strength of the great Jewish community of the United States and we are therefore anxious that nothing be said or done which could in the slightest degree undermine the sense of security and stability of American Jewry.
“In this connection,” Mr. Ben Gurion went on, “let me say a word on immigration. We would like to see American Jews come and take part in our effort. We need their technical knowledge, unrivalled experience, bold vision and know-how. We need engineers, chemists, builders, work managers and technicians. The tasks facing us in this country are eminently such as would appeal to American genius for technical development and social progress, but the decision as to whether they wish to come–permanently or temporarily–rests with each American Jew himself.”
Pointing out that Israel needs chalutzim also, the Premier said that some have come and expressed the belief that more would come, not only from countries where Jews are oppressed but also from countries where Jews live in freedom and are equal in status to all other citizens of their country. He stressed that the “essence of Chalutziut is free choice.” The pioneers, he concluded, will come along with all others who believe that their aspirations as human beings and as Jews can best be fulfilled by life and work in Israel.
Praising American Jews for their tradition of aiding Israel, Mr. Ben Gurion said: “You, Mr. Blaustein, are one of the finest examples of this tradition. As an American Jew you are making many significant contributions to the Jewish cause and to the cause of democracy. I believe that I know something of the spirit of American Jewry among whom I lived for some years and I am convinced that it will continue to make a major contribution to our great effort of reconstruction. I hope that the talks we have had these last few days will lead to even closer cooperation between our two communities.”
BLAUSTEIN SAYS U.S. JEWS ARE NOT IN “EXILE”; LAUDS ISRAEL’S ACHIEVEMENTS
Replying, Mr. Blaustein praised the tremendous achievements of the Israel Government. “What President Truman intends to do under his “Point Four’ program to assist people in underdeveloped areas to improve their conditions and raise their standards of living, you have been doing here, to a large extent, under difficult conditions and great sacrifice,” he said.
“I am gratified to say that the people of Israel want democracy and will not accept any dictatorship or totalitarianism from within or without,” Mr. Blaustein continued. “The vast majority of American Jewry recognizes the necessity and desirability of helping to make Israel a strong, reliable and self-supporting state for Israel’s and the world’s sake. We will do all we can to further increase our share in the great historic task of helping Israel to solve its problems.
“But,” Mr. Blaustein pointed out, “we must in the true spirit of friendliness sound a note of caution for Israel must recognize that the matter of goodwill among citizens is a two-way street; that Israel also has responsibility in this situation–responsibility in terms of not affecting adversely the sensibilities of Jews who are citizens of other states by what it says or does.
“American Jews,” he insisted, “vigorously repudiate any suggestion or implication that they are in exile.” American Jews are attached to America, he stated, adding that for American Jews America is the home where they are rooted and which they helped build, sharing its fruits and its destiny and believing in the American future as a democratic society. “If America fails,” he said, “there will be no future for democracy anywhere in the world and the very existence of Israel would be problematical.”
“However, your statement, Mr. Premier, serves as unmistakable evidence that the responsible leaders of Israel and the organizations connected with it fully understand that future relations between the American Jewish community and the state of Israel must be based on mutual respect of one another’s feelings and needs and the preservation of the integrity of both communities and their institutions,” Mr. Blaustein concluded.