NEW YORK (May. 14)
More than 20,000 volunteer workers for the United Jewish Appeal tonight attended the Festival of Freedom at Madison Square Garden here at which Mayor Robert Wagner conferred the Freedom of the City on Abba Eban, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States.
The guest speaker at the Festival of Freedom was Dr. Abba Hillel Silver, who expressed the audience’s congratulations to the people of Israel on the eleventh anniversary of their independence. Dr. Silver described the establishment of the State of Israel as “one of the most significant break-throughs in Jewish history.” He declared that “the years since the establishment of the State have been years of testing. A million refugees, for whom the rest of the world seemed to have no room, were given new homes and new hopes as the concentration camps of Europe were emptied and Jews from other lands of wretchedness and persecution were rescued.
Dr. Silver warned that “the State of Israel is not yet fully secure politically or economically self-sufficient. There are enemies who are hoping and waiting for its collapse. There are Jews from behind the Iron Curtain and from other parts of the world who are eagerly awaiting the moment when they can go to Israel. Governments under Arab pressure are interfering with emigration, but they cannot be permanently stopped.”
Presiding at the Festival was Mr. Monroe Goldwater, president of the UJA of Greater New York. A special message from Prime Minister David Ben Gurion of Israel was presented to the guests at the Festival by General Yigael Yadin, celebrated Israel soldier and archaeologist. Mr. Ben Gurion paid tribute to the achievements of Ambassador Eban. Referring to Mr. Eban’s plan to stand for election to the Knesset upon his return home, the Prime Minister said:
“It’s my conviction that his integration into the political life of our country heralds many achievements no less great than those which he has accomplished as our representative abroad. I am certain that the strength which has sustained him in his foreign service will be with him in even greater measure at home.”