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Wagner Proclaims Israel Independence Day at City Hall; Calls for Peace

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Before a capacity audience of more than 1,000 persons in the New York City Council chamber, with a large, overflow crowd jamming City Hall Plaza, Mayer Robert F. Wagner today formally proclaimed the municipality’s official observance of Israel Independence Day. He read a special message, hailing Israel’s anniversary, from President Kennedy. Israel’s Consul-General Aryeh Eshel read another message, from his Government’s Prime Minister. David Ben-Gurion.

Thanking Mayor Wagner for New York’s participation “in our festivity,” which he saw as “of special significance” to Israel, Mr. Ben-Gurion declared in his message: “Israel, engaged as it is in the great drama of molding its citizens, old and young, native-born and immigrant, into a united people, and rebuilding a desolate land, and in continuing the task involved in strengthening itself for peace and security, derives much inspiration and encouragement from the support of the people of your city.”

Mr. Wagner, prior to issuing the formal proclamation of the city’s Israel Independence Day observance, said that every effort should be made by the United States “to help overcome the hostility which Israel’s neighbors have continued to show against Israel from the day Israel was established. Only if there is peace in the Middle East will Israel and all the countries in that part of the world be able to forge ahead, in cooperative ways.”

“The first condition of peace must be the recognition by the Arab peoples and their governments that Israel is not only here to stay but is destined to thrive and prosper and will always have our help in doing so,” the Mayor declared. He added that the “true enemies of the Arab peoples was not Israel “but hunger, disease, ignorance, poverty and lack of water. These enemies can be overcome by the joint efforts of Israelis and Arabs.”

The Mayor noted former President Truman’s recognition of Israel, in 1948, declaring that the act was “to the credit of President Truman, and America’s credit, and to the benefit of the cause of freedom and democracy in the Middle East.” He pointed to Israel’s “political stability” as “the rare exception” in the area, calling attention to the recent upheavals in many of the countries adjacent to Israel.

Clergymen of all three faiths took part in the City Hall celebration. Rabbi Israel Mow-showitz, president of the New York Board of Rabbis, delivered the invocation. Prayers were read by the Rev. Dan M. Potter, executive director of the Protestant Council of the City of New York; and Msgr. George A. Kelly, of the Catholic Archdiocese of New York.

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