WASHINGTON (Jan. 21)
A five-year, $250,000,000 plan for the expansion of Jewish National Fund activities in Israel, outlined yesterday by Dr. Abraham Granot, world head of the organization, was endorsed here today at the Golden Jubilee Convention of the J.N.F. of America.
The program’s four major objectives are: purchase of 2,000,000 dunams (500,000 acres) of land; planting of 50,000,000 trees; irrigation of the Negev and Jerusalem “corridor” area; and, drainage of the 15,000 acre Huleh swamp region in Upper Galilee. Responding to a request from Dr. Granot, the delegate, agreed to underwrite $6,000,000 of the estimated $8,000,000 needed for the Huleh swamp reclamation. The remainder will be raised in Israel.
American support for Israel’s needs was today pledged by Vice President Alben W. Barkley, addressing the convention. Reviewing the record of American Government financial aid to the Jewish state, the Vice President told the delegates: “You can be assured that any further needs on the part of Israel will have sympathetic consideration by the American Government.”
He also predicted a glorious future for Israel as a model “on which most of the Middle East might well pattern itself.” He praised the J.N.F. as one of the “most important factors in the building up of a sound economy and a democratic society in the state of Israel.”
U.S. JEWS CONTRIBUTED $150,000,000 TO J.N.F. IN 50 YEARS
American Jews have contributed $150,000,000 to the Jewish National Fund during the last 50 years, it was reported at the opening session, which was attended by about 2,000 delegates from over 800 communities throughout the United States.
Dr. Harris J. Levine, president of the J.N.F. of America, told the delegates: “If we found the means to contribute in the last 50 years the sum of $150,000,000 we should have enough vision and devotion to match this sum in the next five years for the full development of the Jewish homeland and the completion of the great task of the Jewish state building begun by the pioneers of Zionism.”
Mendel Fisher, J.N.F. executive director, reported that no Jewish institution in America receives more individual gifts from American Jews than the Fund. He said that the organization now operates in 1,400 American communities, adding that Americans have provided 75 percent of the total contributed throughout the world for the purchase of land in Israel.
“Attempts have been made from time to time by various organization that wish to control and dominate the American scene to eliminate the J.N.F. collections,” Mr. Fisher said. “These efforts have not succeeded in the past and will not succeed in the future. We will continue to protect the rights and the integrity of the J.N.F. both here and in Israel.”
PLAN DESIGNED TO RESTORE FERTILITY TO SOIL, GRANOT SAYS
During the presentation of his plan, Dr. Granot declared that the objective of the five-year project is to restore fertility to Israel’s soil by “harnessing to the skill and devotion of its population the most modern technical science and machinery which the U.S.A. can offer.”
Dr. Granot said that “neither the Israel Government nor the Keren Kayemeth propose” that the land abandoned by the Arabs who deserted Israel should be “expropriated.” “Though it is the firm intention of our government that the Arabs who deserted the country shall not return, we do not propose to deprive them of their property but to purchase it. The compensation they receive will be used for their re-settlement outside Israel.”
Israel Ambassador Abba Eban told the conference that “the present world tension requires Israel to expedite all its plans for the achievement of stability and economic independence,” adding that “it is vitally necessary for us to become less dependent on external sources of essential supplies, especially foodstuffs.” Israel will continue to “dedicate its best efforts to the preservation of world peace, the pursuit of social progress and the support of democracy as the highest expression of man’s political genius.”
AMBASSADOR MCDONALD CALLS FOR U.S. AID TO JEWISH STATE
James G. McDonald, who recently resigned as U.S. Ambassador to Israel, addressing the delegates, said: “I believe the defense of our country at this critical juncture in world affairs will be strengthened almost in proportion as Israel is given the tools to speed up the development of its varied resources and is thereby enabled to assume an increasing role in safeguarding democracy in the strategic Middle East.”
He emphasized that “in the present unsettled world situation, consolidation of Israel’s economic life is not merely the concern of people of Israel or of the Jews of the United States. It is also of direct concern to all Americans and to all men and women who are interested in preserving and strengthening the forces of democracy in the world.”
Dr. Abba Hillel Silver said that the U.S. Government should be asked “to bring the great weight of its diplomatic influence toward hastening the conclusion of peace between the neighboring Arab states and Israel.” This, he insisted, “would be a major contribution to the pacification of one of the most strategic areas in the world today.” Referring to Israel’s need for help from America and American Jewry, Dr. Silver warned against “political demobilization on the part of American Jewry in these days of political alignments.”
Dr. Nahum Goldmann, chairman of the American section of the Jewish Agency stressed that “Zionism was always meant to be more than another nationalist movement out to create a state.” Zionism also claimed to be “a great idealistic and ethical movement, desirous not only to solve Jewish homelessness and create a sovereign Jewish state but to implement through the state the basic ideas of Jewish history and Jewish civilization to make it not only a state of Jews but in a spiritual and idealistic sense a Jewish state.
A prediction that the population of Israel will number 5,000,000 persons within 50 years was made by Dr. Israel Goldstein, national chairman of the J.N.F. jubilee committee.