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Mrs. Roosevelt Impressed with Israel’s “colossal Undertakings”

Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt said today that the care given children was “the happiest thing I saw in Israel.” Winding up a five-day visit to this country during which she traveled exhaustively from one end of the state to the other and visited settlements, industries, immigrant camps and other institutions and talked with the nation’s leaders. Mrs. Roosevelt gave her impressions of the country to a press conference here.

Comparing the present situation in Israel with the United States in its pioneering epoch, Mrs. Roosevelt said: “Colossal undertakings are being carried out here with such vigor and vitality that it takes away one’s breath.” Referring to the absorption of new immigrants here, she commented: “I was told that Israel is a melting pot, but I must repeat what I said, ‘Israel is not a melting pot but a pressure cooker.'”

Mrs. Roosevelt declined to comment on the refugee question generally but said conditions in the immigrant work camps (maabarot) were incomparably better than in the Arab refugee camps. The immigrant camps, she said, were cleaner and better equipped. In reply to a question about the Palestine Arab refugees, Mrs. Roosevelt said that the Arab refugees were being stirred to discontent and unrest by “professional leaders.”

She expressed doubt that the United Nations would be able to assist the Jews of Eastern Europe to emigrate to Israel since “it is not United Nations policy to interfere in the internal affairs of any country.” She said, in response to another question, that Israel can play a very important role in defense of the Middle East but “all this depends on the future.”

Commenting on the difficult economic situation in Israel, Mrs. Roosevelt voiced confidence that these conditions would be overcome. “I was staying in Paris at a hotel on the doors of which was a plaque saying, ‘here France gave the first loan to the United States of America.’ You see what became of the United States of America. So I do believe that Israel will overcome the present hardships.”

Mrs. Roosevelt was the guest of honor at a dinner tendered tonight by Prime Minister David Ben Gurion attended by U.S. Ambassador Monett B. Davis, members of the diplomatic corps and members of the Israel Cabinet. She will leave Israel tomorrow morning for Pakistan and India. Earlier today, in a ceremony at Kfar Vitkin. Mrs. Vera Weizmann, wife of Israel’s president, proclaimed March 30 as World Jewish Child’s Day. Mrs. Roosevelt was present at the ceremony and heard an announcement by Hadassah, the American women’s Zionist organization, that a vocational training center to be established by Youth Aliyah and Hadassah would bear Mrs. Roosevelt’s name.

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