JERUSALEM (Dec. 10)
Itzhak Ben Zvi, Israel’s second President, took his oath of office today in a ceremony in Parliament witnessed by Israeli dignitaries, United Nations officials, leaders of all churches and the entire diplomatic corps, except the representatives of the Soviet Union, Poland, Rumania and Czechoslovakia.
The new President was sworn in on the last day of “Shloshim,” the thirty days of official mourning for the late President Chaim Weizmann. The ceremony started with two Rabbis blowing the Shofar to announce the arrival of the President and concluded with a 21-gun salute after he took the oath. The 90-year-old father of the President was in the Presidential box together with other members of the President’s family when the oath was administered by Joseph Sprinzak, Speaker of Parliament.
In his inaugural address, which followed the oath, President Ben Zvi thanked Parliament for the confidence and honor bestowed upon him and emphasized that “it is not easy” to fill the chair of President Weizmann who, he said, was “unique in his generation.” He spoke of the heroism and sacrifices of the Jews who gave their lives so that Israel could be established as an independent state, and of the “ingathering” of Jews from all parts of the world to Israel.
SAYS ISRAEL IS STILL FAR FROM PEACE; CITES BLOCKADE
“We are still far from peace,” he continued. “We will not turn aside from the many dangers facing us. The blockade and the hatred of the countries which surround us is still in force. We will also not turn away from consideration of the great economic hardships. However, we believe deeply in our mission. The powerful will to achieve justice on earth and the hidden power which kept us for long generations and brought us to our present stand — we trust in them. They will bring us to our destination.”
The President declared that the “in-gathering of the exiles still remains our central task, and we will not retreat from it even in the face of hatred and calumny.” But, he emphasized, “this historic task will not be accomplished without the assistance of the entire Jewish nation, in the West and in the East. Our creation is a creation of peace and will bring peace to the world. We will bring peace near and far, to Jews and Arabs and to other communities.
“But it is necessary to protect peace and its protection is essential for us and for the entire world,” the President continued. “Let us make peace at home, let all parties despite their differences stand up to protect our dearest and most sacred achievement — the state,” he pleaded. “If I succeed in restoring peace, that will be my reward,” he concluded.