President Johnson Stresses Israel’s Need of Water at Weizmann Dinner
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President Johnson Stresses Israel’s Need of Water at Weizmann Dinner

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Expressing his “affection” for Israel’s achievements, President Lyndon Johnson told an audience of 1, 700 guests at the annual dinner of the American Committee for the Weizmann Institute here tonight that the United States “has begun discussions with the representatives of Israel on cooperative research in using nuclear energy to turn salt water into fresh water.” He especially emphasized the importance of water to Israel’s development.

Without mentioning the Arab opposition to Israel’s water development plan, the President said: “Water should never divide men–it should unite them. Water should never be a cause of war–it should always be a force for peace.” He stressed that Israel needs water for irrigation for consumption, for industry and recreation “and all of its other uses.”

Telling the audience that he “shares the pride in Israel’s achievements,” President Johnson declared: “I speak the warm sentiments uttered by every American President since Harry Truman. And in the desires and hopes of these Presidents, I say to you and to the world that I would not underestimate the complexity of all the age old Middle East rivalries and hostilities. But the basic hope of the United States for this area is not so complex and not so different from that of all mankind. It is inscribed in the ancient writ of the prophets and on the modern buildings of the United Nations. It is simply a desire for the day when ‘Nation shall not lift up sword against nation nor shall they learn war any more.'”


The dinner, attended by some of the nation’s leading figures in science, industry and communal affairs, was highlighted by an official announcement of the creation of a “Living Memorial” to the late President Kennedy, and the posthumous presentation of an Honorary Fellowship which was voted to him by the Weizmann Institute last November, and which he was to have received personally. President Johnson accepted the Honorary Fellowship on behalf of the late President from Dewey D. Stone, chairman of the Board of Governors of the Weizmann Institute.

The “Living Memorial” will be in the form of 46 John F. Kennedy Fellowships–one for each year of Mr. Kennedy’s life–which will be awarded annually to qualified scientists from all over the world who wish to engage in research and study at the Weizmann Institute. A Scientific Committee headed by Lord Rothschild will advise on the annual selection of applicants.

More than $500, 000 was raised through the $250-a-plate dinner for the Kennedy Fellowship Fund, according to Abraham Feinberg, president of the American committee, and Meyer W. Weisgal, the Weizmann Institute’s chief executive officer.


President Johnson opened his address by paying tribute to the late Dr. Chaim Weizmann, “a great son of the Jewish people,” as well as to “one of the most exciting creations of the Republic of Israel, the Weizmann Institute of Science.”

“The great name of Chaim Weizmann,” he declared, “does not belong to the Jewish people alone. It has enriched the moral treasury of our age.” He said that Dr. Weizmann’s selection as the first President of Israel “reinforced the unbroken moral tradition that linked Dr. Weizmann to the great prophets of an unforgotten past.”

“The Weizmann Institute is a source of pride to every friend of Israel,” the President stressed. “It is an international scientific institution in the fullest st sense of the word. To its buildings come students from all over the globe. It has helped make Israel one of the foremost scientific resources of the world.”

“Israel knows well the importance of science,” he continued. “At its birth in 1948, this tiny nation faced monumental problems of economic survival. Only a fifth of its meager territory was fit for cultivation. Yet it was called upon to sustain a population that doubled in 10 years.

“One of its earliest and most important scientific problems was the same problem that has troubled so many nations of the globe, and so many parts of this country, including my

own. This problem is water; water for irrigation, water for consumption, water for indoor and recreation and all of its other uses.

“Our own water problems in this country are not yet solved. We like Israel, need to find cheap ways of converting salt water to fresh water. So, Let us work together. This nation has begun discussions with the representatives of Israel on cooperative research in using nuclear energy to turn salt water into fresh water.

“This project poses a challenge to our scientific and technical skill. I promise no early and easy results. But the opportunities are so vast, the stakes are so high, it is worth all our efforts and all our energy. For water means life and opportunity and prosperity for those who never knew the meaning of these words. Water can banish hunger, reclaim the desert, and change the course of history. We are equally ready to cooperate with other countries anxious to cure water shortage.

“This would be a part of a general program for pooling experience and knowledge in this important field. The International Atomic Energy Agency is a local point in this program. In this way we can demonstrate the constructive meaning of man’s mastery of the atom. We can pool the intellectual resources of Israel, America and all mankind for the benefit of all the world. And we can better pursue our common quest for water.”

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