NEW YORK (Oct. 20)
President Dwight D. Eisenhower pledged tonight before 2,000 members of the American Jewish community attending the Jewish Tercentenary Dinner, that the United States will “continue to contribute to peaceful relations” between Jews and Arabs. Touching upon the situation in the Near East, the President in his half-hour speech said:
“We are all regretfully aware that the major differences between Israel and the Arab states remain unresolved. Our goal there, as elsewhere, is a just peace. By friendship toward both, we shall continue to contribute to peaceful relations among these peoples. And in helping to strengthen the security of the entire Near East, we shall make sure that any arms we provide are devoted to that purpose, not to creating local imbalances which could be used for the intimidation of, or aggression against, any neighboring nations. In every such arrangement we make with any nation, there is ample assurance that this distortion of purpose cannot occur.
The President quoted “the wonderful prophecy” of Isaiah: “And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever.” Mr. Eisenhower added: “The pursuit of peace is at once our religious obligation and our national policy. Peace and freedom–where all men dwell in security–is the ideal toward which our foreign policy is directed.
“I know,” the President continued, “that I am speaking to the people who deeply love peace. I know that, with all other Americans, you share a profound thanksgiving that, for the first time in 20 years there is no active battlefield anywhere in the world.”
ARRIVAL OF FIRST JEWS AN ‘INSPIRING MOMENT’
After reiterating America’s pacific intentions and desire for peace, Mr. Eisenhower turned to the history of the Jews in the United States and told his audience:
“We have come together in memory of an inspiring moment in history – that moment, 300 years ago, when a small band of Jewish people arrived on the ship, St. Charles, in what was then the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam. It was an event meaningful not only to the Jews of America but to all Americans – of all faiths, of all national origins.
“On that day there came to these shores 23 people whose distant ancestors had, through the Old Testament, given new dimensions of meaning to the concepts of freedom and justice, mercy and righteousness, kindness and understanding–ideas and ideals which were to flower on this continent. They were of a people who had done much to give Western civilization the principle of human dignity; they came to a land which would flourish–beyond all 17th Century dreams–because it fostered that dignity among its citizens.
“Of all religious concepts, this belief in the infinite worth of the individual is beyond doubt among the most important. On this faith our forefathers constructed the framework of our Republic.
COMMUNIST CONSPIRACY CHIEF FOE TODAY
“In this faith in human dignity is the major difference between our own concept of life and that of enemies of freedom. The chief of these enemies a decade and more ago were Nazi and Fascist forces which destroyed so many of our fellow men. Today, the Communist conspiracy is the principal influence that derides the truth of human worth and, with atheistic ruthlessness, seeks to destroy the free institutions established on the foundation of that truth.
“Asher Levy and his party came to this land on that long ago day because even then they had to find a country where they could safely put into practice their belief in the dignity of man.
JEWS, CHRISTIANS SHARE IDEAL OF PEACE
“In this respect–as in so many others–they were no different from scores of other groups that landed on our shores. Only 34 years earlier, another party had landed at Plymouth Rock. That group, too, came here in the hope of escaping persecution–of gaining religious freedom–of settling quietly in the wilderness to build their homes and rear their families.
“And there was another novel concept of our common Judeo-Christian civilization shared by these two groups and by all others who have come to this land: the ideal of peace.”
Reviewing the general situation in the world today, the President told the assembled Jewish dignitaries: “We shall keep faith with those of earliest America who, as they came to these shores three centuries and more ago, launching a venture in freedom unparalleled in man’s struggle over the ages, sought peace and freedom and justice, for themselves and for those who were to follow. Yes, my friends, we know, with the Prophet Isaiah that the work of righteousness shall be peace. We know that the Lord will give strength unto all of us as we strive tirelessly, confidently for peace,” the President concluded.
PRESIDENT INTRODUCED BY JUSTICE NATHAN
President Eisenhower was introduced by New York State Supreme Court Edgar J. Nathan, Jr., a descendent of Abraham de Lucena, one of the 23 Jews who came to New Amsterdam in 1654 and established the first Jewish community in this country. The dinner was presided over by Joseph Willen of New York.
Ralph E. Samuel, chairman of the Tercentenary Committee, who was one of the speakers, emphasized that the 5,000,000 American Jews begin the fourth century of their settlement in this country “with reverence for the past and with deep pride as Americans and as Jews. But above all else, we celebrate the American Jewish Tercentenary in a spirit of gratitude, dedication and devotion to these blessed United States.”
An invocation was delivered by Rabbi David de Sola Pool of Congregation Shearith Israel of New York. The benediction was given by Rabbi Barnett R. Brickner of Cleveland, president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis. A Tercentenary prayer was delivered by Rabbi Israel Goldstein of Congregation B’nai Jeshurun of New York. Irving Berlin, noted composer, sang “God Bless America” accompanied by the Jewish Chapel Choir of the United States Military Academy at West Point, which also sang several other selections.