Eshkol Addresses Zionist Congress; Stresses Security As Main Concern
Menu JTA Search

Eshkol Addresses Zionist Congress; Stresses Security As Main Concern

Download PDF for this date

Prime Minister Levi Eshkol today told the 26th World Zionist Congress that, to help meet the continued threats against Israel by Egypt’s President Gamal Abdel Nasser, the Jewish State needs annually 40,000 Jewish immigrants from “the lands of affluence,” as well as intensification by the Zionist movement of “educational work to meet the challenges of Nasserism.”

“Israel’s security,” he stressed, “remains Israel’s primary concern. Israel’s security is also the front line of Jewish existence throughout the world.”

“While posing as a ‘moderate’ when he addresses foreign visitors, Nasser continues to tell his own people about his real objective,” Mr. Eshkol told the Congress. “He says that war is inevitable, but wants to reserve to himself the right to fix the date. Hence, Israel must build up a powerful deterrent force. While much has been achieved in this area, weapons alone are not enough. Israel must preserve its superiority in quality, in manpower and through increased population.”

Emphasizing the fact that efforts have been made by Israel to develop and expand the country’s absorptive power, including the expansion of its water resources, he stressed the need for further intensification of industrialization. He expressed hope that in this, Israel would be assisted by the Jewish communities outside this country “with their enterprise, knowledge and capital.” Pointing out that Israel’s efforts are based on large-scale immigration, he added: “Since immigration from the lands of distress is nearing exhaustion, where will the new immigration come from?”


The Premier voiced the hope that a change may come about in the Soviet Union’s attitude to the Jewish question. “Soviet Jewry,” he affirmed, “will not be struck off our agenda. There are no substantial reasons, nor are there Soviet national interests, nor are there Communist ideological interests for ignoring the unity of the Jewish fate. We look forward to a change in this respect.”

Noting that “only a trickle” of Jewish immigration comes now from the “lands of affluence,” Mr. Eshkol said: “The establishment of the State did not terminate the functions of the Zionist movement. The movement must be provided with functions of a new type. But, in the first instance, we need immigration, and the Zionists must provide a personal example. The young intelligentsia, the scientists, the technicians must come here to help mold the States character.

“We must initiate a pioneering movement that will assist the Zionist movement and we must provide a background, which is the atmosphere of Jewish education in the Diaspora. The Israel Government and the World Zionist Organization have agreed upon the principle of joint responsibility for the future of the Jewish people, and Israel gives the greatest assistance in educational, youth and informational efforts. But Israel cannot replace the efforts of devoted Diaspora Jewry, upon whom the main burden rests.

“Full collaboration between the Government and the World Zionist Organization will continue. But we cannot desist from making the essential demand upon the Zionist movement and upon individual Zionists for personal participation in immigration and in education. We shall not desist from making this demand, addressing it to the Zionist movement, to fulfill the aims and precepts of the generation. This marks no change in relation to the previous stand of the Israel Government. It can be considered only a change in formulation, but no change in content and demand.”

The general debate today centered on education, youth and organizational problems. M. Vodovitch of the Confederation of General Zionists in Argentina, urged the activation of the South American youth who do not speak Yiddish. He also urged the adoption of a resolution providing for the re-establishment of the movement’s political department.

Lawrence Freeman of Canada stressed that were it not for the perpetuation of the Diaspora counterparts of the Israeli political parties, Canadian Zionism would have been more fairly represented. He called upon the Jewish Agency to inquire into the relevancy of the party system on the Canadian scene and to furnish an objective report.

Dr. L. Abecassis, chairman of the Argentine Sephardic communities, called for the establishment of a special department to deal with problems of the 80,000 Sephardic Jews in South American who are threatened by assimilation.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund