TEL AVIV (Apr. 4)
The United States is still apt to supply Israel with defensive arms, Dr. Abba Hillel Silver declared here today at a press conference at ZOA House. He asserted that the United States could not expect that, denied defensive arms from the West, Israel should not turn to other countries, including the Soviet Union, for such weapons. It is the first obligation of any nation to defend itself, he added.
Asked about American Jewry’s reaction to an Israel approach to the Communist bloc for arms, Dr. Silver said that “after the first shock” the Jews of the United States would agree with and justify such a step. But, he reiterated, he believed that the U. S. Government would grant Israel arms because safeguarding Israel’s independence is part of America’s basic foreign policy.
When he was asked how President Eisenhower’s message to President Ben Zvi urging patience and stressing U. S. interest in solving the Middle East problem squared with Secretary of State Dulles remarks yesterday, Dr. Silver declared that the U. S. Middle Eastern policy was not yet stabilized and the final word had not been spoken. Israel must adjust herself to “an unclear situation” in the coming period, he said.
Turning to the Zionist movement, Dr. Silver said that the most important question facing it is whether the Israel Government wants and is interested in a strong Zionist movement, or whether it regards the movement as an “appendix” of past days. If the Israel Government will clearly state that it wants a strong movement and will give it its full support, then he would be willing to accept any administrative post in the Zionist movement. Israel needs a strong and alerted Zionist movement to safeguard Israel’s legitimate rights as long as there is tension in the world, he declared.
Dr. Silver asked the correspondents not to interpret his leaving Israel before the 24th World Zionist Congress opens this month as a sign of “ill feeling”–such feelings have long since been forgotten, he said. He has to leave because of extensive engagements in the United States, in connection with United Jewish Appeal and Israel bond campaigns, he said, and he has not yet decided whether he will return for the Congress.
Asked to comment on proposals for a Herut-General Zionist merger, Dr. Silver said he thought favorable consideration should be given to the grouping of “non-Socialist classes and parties” but expressed fear that such a merger would mean that the General Zionists would lose their present “esteemed character” and would be associated with an extreme, militant party.
The American Zionist leader expressed his satisfaction with his current visit to Israel, saying that he was taking back to the United States an impression of solidarity, stability and increasing strength in nearly every department of the young country. He found no defeatism, Dr. Silver concluded, no sense of fear, but a deep concern with the problems facing Israel.