WASHINGTON (May. 27)
President Truman last night indicated his desire to visit Israel in an address which he delivered at a Jewish National Fund dinner marking the completion of Kfar Truman, an Israeli village of 180 settlers bearing his name.
“The growth and progress of the new State of Israel are a source of great satisfaction to me,” Mr. Truman said. “I had faith in Israel even before it was established. I knew it was based on the love of freedom, which has been the guiding star of the Jewish people since the days of Moses. I was sure that under the leadership of President Weizmann, Israel would take its place in the family of nations as a strong supporter of the ideals of human freedom.”
Pointing out that “it was a great pleasure for me when you named one of the new villages of Israel after me,” President Truman said: “Some day, when I don’t have so much to do as I have now, I want to go to Israel and see Kfar Truman, and talk to their young farmers there. Perhaps they can teach me a few things about farming, and perhaps I can tell them a few things about the way we farm over here, although I will admit I am 30 years out of practise in practical on-the-ground farming. But my brother, my sister and myself still own the old home farm. Two of my nephews do as much work in this mechnical age as my brother and my father and myself with five helpers could do in one day.”
PRAISES VISIONARY MISSION OF JEWISH NATIONAL FUND
Mr. Truman expressed the hope that the people of Kfar Truman will have a wonderful future. “The people of the Truman village,” he said, “are very fortunate, of course, in having the Jewish National Fund behind them. Through that Fund, you have been working on the Point Four idea for 50 years. You have been buying land in Israel, reclaiming it, irrigating it, and planting trees on it. That was the farsighted way to build a new nation–start with the land itself.
“You have studied history. You realized that the whole area of the Near East, that had produced some of the greatest civilizations of the world, was today able to support only a fraction of the people it once had. The trees were gone, the water was gone, some of the land was eroded away, and other parts were swamp and marsh. After 50 years, the founders of your organization decided to correct this situation in Israel. The work you have done is an outstanding example of what can be done to help the people throughout the Near East to help themselves.
“That is what we are trying to do in our Point Four program. That is why I say the Jewish National Fund embarked on a Point Four program 50 years ago. I like to think that the first large-scale program of the Jewish National Fund was the reclamation of a desert valley called the Valley of Death. Today that valley is being brought back to life, and so is the whole of Israel. That is what Point Four programs can do throughout the world, if we have the courage and the good sense to go ahead with them.”
SAYS ISRAEL CAN BE MADE THE COUNTRY OF MILK AND HONEY
Referring to the fight in Congress over the cutting of the Mutual Security Aid program, Mr. Truman stated: “I am glad to say that Israel did escape the wild swings of the meat axe in the House, but it was a close call. An attempt was made to cut down the funds that Israel needs to help itself, to take care of its refugees through improving its resources, and to place its economy on a firm, self-sustaining foundation. But this cut was defeated. However, the amendment that was made in the Point Four program will cut the funds for the countries that are neighbors to Israel, and for the free countries of Africa.”
The President predicted that “the Mesopotamian Valley, properly developed, will support 20 or 30 millions of people, as it did in ancient times.” It can be developed with American help, he stated.
“I can’t help but dream a little out loud here,” he continued. “The Tigris and Euphrates Valleys can be made to bloom as it did in the times of Babylon and Nineveh. Israel can be made the country of milk and honey as it was in the time of Joshua. That is what we are trying to do. If those developments are made, why, there’s a project which contemplates a siphon 100 yards in diameter from the Mediterranean Sea to the Dead Sea Valley, the fall would create enough power for the whole Near East. And it is not impossible, for I have had the survey made on it.”
“I have had Gordon Clapp, the chairman of the T.V.A. board, make a survey of the Mesopotamian Valley, the Tigris to the Euphrates Rivers, and several other rivers in that neighborhood, in Turkey and in Lebanon. These things can be done, and they are self-liquidating projects. We have immense amounts of money in this country that you might call risk capital, hunting for a place for investment.”
Referring to the possibility of Arab-Jewish peace, President Truman said: “Think what a wonderful thing it would be if we had complete peace and harmony in the Near East. Think of the developments that I have been talking about. It is an integrated economic whole, with Israel as the industrial center and the rest of the country around there to produce the food and fibre necessary to feed that industrial mill of Israel.”