Menu JTA Search

Israel Opens 16th Anniversary Celebration; Shazar Stresses Peace, Immigration

Fireworks lighted the Israeli skies right after sundown tonight, bursting above cities and kibbutzim, frontier posts and remote settlements, literally from Dan to Beersheba and southwards to the tip of the Negev, as Israel opened its biggest and most colorful annual observance, the celebration of Independence Day. Israel’s 16th birthday is being observed by the Government and the people of Israel officially tomorrow. In accordance with Hebrew custom, a holiday opens on the previous night.

While the biggest event of the day will be centered, this year, at Beersheba, where Israel will stage a mammoth military parade, thousands of Israelis and tourists will watch President Zalman Shazar, Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin and other dignitaries taking the salute. There will be other festive events throughout the country.

Over Kol Israel, the Israeli radio, the celebration was launched formally tonight with a message from the President. Mr. Shazar emphasized two points of strategic importance to Israel as it faces its 17th year: Peace and immigration. He said there was no pause during the past year “in the efforts that our people and our Government made to receive our brethren as they came back from lands of dispersion, and to prepare homes and work for them. ” He added that, as the year ended, Israel was “entirely ready, in spirit and in strictly economic terms, to continue to welcome new waves of aliya from provenances of oppression and ease alike.”

He said the thanks of the people went out “to the Defense Army and to all the security forces that stand alert to protect our land and thwart the evil designs of those who would destroy us.”

Touching on Israel-Arab relations, he said that “though many political ordeals await us, though hatred of us is still thundered by those who hope to frighten us with threats, though hostility and intrigue have not ceased, the year that is ending has seen a reinforcement and an expansion of our amicable relations with other peoples, and a steady contraction of the menace of international isolation.”

NEXT STORY