Ben-gurion Asks U.S. Jews to Send 100,000 Youths to Study in Israel
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Ben-gurion Asks U.S. Jews to Send 100,000 Youths to Study in Israel

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Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, addressing the World Zionist Congress today, appealed to American Jews to send 100,000 youths for study in Israel. He cited the fact that the American Zionist movement numbers 700,000 registered members, and urged that “every son and daughter of parents who speak in the name of Zionism” should be sent for a year’s study in Israel in order to foster personal ties with the Jewish State.

“Is it impossible for American Jewry with its quarter of a million Jewish students, its 700,000 shekel holders, to send 100,000 students to study here, thus creating personal ties which will enrich American Jewry and increase the strength and abilities of Israel?” he asked.

Declaring that American Jews must play a role in the “challenge” of Aliyah–immigration to Israel–Mr. Ben-Gurion said that Israel needs immigrants with spiritual qualities. “Zionists who are not able to come to Israel themselves, because of age or economic situation, must send their children to study for a year in Israel, even if they are not obliged to remain here,” he stated. This, he said, applies not only to U.S. Jewry but also to Jewries in Latin America. South Africa and Western Europe.

“Two hundred thousand such students spending a year here, will change the face of both this country and of world Jewry,” he stressed. “If there is meaning in what Zionists have been saying for decades, this is a real possibility, a vital need–neither a dream nor a vision. If you have moral courage,” he told the Congress delegates,” and believe in what you have said all along, this task will not be impossible for you.”


Jewish immigration to Israel was now “the central problem,” the Prime Minister emphasized. He pointed out that the stimuli of early immigration–distress, economic and political persecution, discrimination and degradation–were “insufficient to induce a large settlement of Palestine, in view of the poverty of the country and in view of insecurity.”

The early Zionist ideology. Mr. Ben-Gurion said, was founded on the European attitude toward the Jew and the attitude of Jews toward Europe. Jews in Eastern Europe and the Balkans, and the Zionist minority in Western Europe, he said, did not regard themselves as part of the people among whom they lived, but as a “foreign growth,” exiles whose future lay in Israel.

This ideology, he went on, “was not cherished in the United States because there the situation is different, and no American Jew, Zionist or non-Zionist, feels he is a foreign or a temporary growth in that country.” However, the American Jew must play a role in the current, grave, urgent challenge of Aliyah which faces this generation, because “it is in this generation that the fate of the State and Jewry will be determined.”

“This is the last generation of slavery and the first of salvation.” Mr. Ben-Gurion said, “but it is liable to be also the last of Salvation. And if those loyal to Zion do not find the courage to act with inner strength and responsibility of understanding, then Zionism has no other meaning than ‘To Zion.'”

Citing the decline of Yiddish, and the threats of assimilation, he declared that those interested in the future of Judaism must view the dangers facing Jews in the Diaspora “with open eyes” and with courage. “In certain Moslem and totalitarian states,” he stated, “Judaism is in danger of strangulation. In countries of freedom and prosperity, Jews face the kiss of death–a slow, unnoticeable decline into assimilation. This Congress, must warn and be warned.”


Two factors, Mr. Ben-Gurion told the delegates, are essential for the survival of the Jewish State and the survival of Jewry outside Israel–each of which is dependent on the other. These factors are: I. Increased Jewish immigration into Israel. “of a pioneering and productive character”; and a. Educating the younger generation of Jews outside Israel in regard to their personal attachment to Jewry and to Israel.

“If there is any meaning to this Congress and the name it bears,” Mr. Ben-Gurion stated, “it must realize its momentous responsibility, and being into action the tiniest laments of our people, our youth, both in Israel and in the Diaspora, for the achievement of these two central aims.”

The lesson of the past 40 years, from the time Russian Jewry was cut off from the world to the period of the Aliyah of the first million Jews to Israel, he declared, “requires grave, far-reaching, open-eyed analysis of our situation.” The Premier described this 10-year period as a time in which the history of humanity has changed completely. “There has never been,” he said, “another period so appalling, encouraging, tragic and heroic, full of tribulations and destruction on the one hand, of hope and salvation on the other hand.”

Mr. Ben-Gurion listed chronologically four events of “fateful significance” during the era, stating that never has the Jewish people been faced with such vital, momentous and difficult tasks, “and such grave and deadly dangers involving the possibility of absolute destruction–and, at the same time, such promising, glorious prospects.”


First, Mr. Ben-Gurion pointed out, was the violation and paralysis of Russian Jewry for the last 40 years, “a Jewry which, despite suffering and distress, played a leading role in the renaissance of scholarship, the Haskalah movement, yeshivoth, literature, the labor movement, chalutziut, habit-Zion, and foundations for the new State.”

“The Iron Curtain erected between Soviet Jewry and world Jewry,” he continued, “teaches us that there are world powers that not only have the capacity, but also the desire, to impose spiritual silence and annihilation on millions of Jews under their control, without the Jewish people of the world being able to do anything about it.”

The second event of this era, spelled out by Mr. Ben-Gurion, came 20 years later, that development being the Nazi holocaust “which cannot be measured only by the appalling dimensions of 6,000,000 Nazi victims. Led to the slaughter,” he recalled, “were the bearers of the Jewish spirit. All Jewish sources of learning were destroyed, and its sources of life and rejuvenation were destroyed.”

The third event in the period, one preceding it, Mr. Ben-Gurion stated, was the establishment of the new, rich and influential Jewish center in America. “No such community,” he said, “existed throughout the history of the Diaspora, since the days of the Second Temple.”

The final event was identified by Mr. Ben-Gurion as “the miracle of the Jewish State,” which was founded in the same decade as the worst holocaust, “providing our generation with two climactic events of history–the apex of grief and destruction, and the apex of comfort and salvation in which the entire Jewry participated and which was not completed with the establishment of the State, but has only begun.”


“Although Israel, since the establishment of the State, has grown by 300 percent,” the Premier emphasized, “it now numbers only 15 percent of Jewry. We are only at the beginning of the road, a road that’s long and difficult, and not without grave dangers.” He warned against a “blind confidence that we can face any conditions” and that there was no danger to Israel’s survival in the future. “We are unable to compel our neighbors to make peace and we must realize that the Arabs are not standing still,” he said.

He told the Congress that “hundreds of Soviet instructors” were busy working to improve the Egyptian armed forces, and that Soviet arms were “flowing unceasingly” into Egypt. Challenging the Congress to tackle basic tasks, he said:

“The question you must answer not with words but with deeds is whether you have the desire and the will and the ability to work for and ensure the immigration Israel needs in ever greaten numbers an immigration motivated not only by the burden of distress and external pressure but also by the powerful impulse of the creative vision of redemption which exalts and enriches the spirit of man.”

He called for “pioneers, capitalists, scientists, teachers, writers and middle class immigrants, men and women moved by the spiritual need to strengthen the will and devotion to the ideal of concern for the future of the Jewish State and the Jewish people.”

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