WASHINGTON (Oct. 26)
The four-day National Planning Conference for Israel and Jewish Rehabilitation opened here today with a presentation by Eliezer Kaplan, Israel’s Finance Minister, of a three-year aid program for the Jewish state and with messages from President Chaim Weizmann and Premier David Ben Gurion of Israel, appealing to American Jewry for maximum assistance.
Addressing the 280 man steering committee of the Conference, Mr. Kaplan said that the bulk of funds required between now and the end of 1953 must come from philanthropic aid and private investments. He predicted that despite the great influr of immigrants, Israel will be well on the road to economic stabilization by 1956. He estimated that the sum of $1,500,000,000 will be required by the Jewish state by the end of 1953.
President Weizmann in his message to the Conference, which is attended by 1,200 Jewish leaders from all parts of the United States and Canada, expressed confidence that “American Jewry will prove faithful to its noblest traditions and will join in holy partnership with Israel, which will result in the greatest constructive self-help program in Jewish history.”
Expressing regret that he could not attend the Conference, President Weizmann said: “Neither words nor figures are adequate to describe the great hardships and burdens which the people of Israel are assuming in order to keep the doors of the young state open to all who must enter. But our suffering is a joy in the face of the historic opportunity which the existence of Israel grants to us. For the first time in millenial Jewish history, our people have the power to taks the initiative in rescuing hundreds of thousands of homeless Jews.”
Premier Ben Gurion, in his message, warned that “political uncertainties throughout the world which bring great pressure on our people in Oriental countries and Eastern Europe” compel the Jewish state to accelerate its efforts of rescue and economic resettlement. He emphasized that the three-year plan, which was first projected by 50 American Jewish leaders at a conference in Jerusalem last month, represented a “supreme test” for both Israel and all Jewish communities abroad.
The Israel Premier said that despite difficulties involving austerity and other problems, the people of Israel have already demonstrated that they can achieve self-sufficiency in the coming years. He stressed the importance of continued large-scale immigration into Israel and emphasized that: “No one knows what may happen next year or after to those who now have the opportunity to come to Israel. He appealed to American Jewry to continue its partnership in this “great and sacred undertaking.”
Mr. Kaplan told the delegates that the people of Israel would undertake even more severe austerity measures to help provide part of the $1,500,000,000 required to carry out the three-year plan. However, he emphasized that that balance would have to come from the Western hemisphere, notably from the United States.