MIAMI BEACH (Mar. 5)
More than 3, 000 Jewish leaders from all parts of the United States and Canada gathered here at the International Inaugural Conference of Israel Bonds, celebrated last night the 80th birthday of David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s eldest statesman, by purchasing $30, 150, 000 in Israel bonds. This was the largest amount ever realized by any inaugural conference in the 16-year history of the Israel Bond Organization.
The 300 tables in the big ballroom at the Fontainebleu Hotel each had a birthday cake decorated with blue and white flags of Israel in homage to the Israeli leader. The overflow audience was deeply moved as Dr. Joseph J. Schwartz, vice-president of the Israel Bond Organization, described Mr. Ben Gurion as “the man who erased the word homelessness, from the vocabulary of Jewish experience.”
Mr. Ben-Gurion called on American Jews to preserve their Jewishness through wider study of the Bible and to advance Israel’s economic growth through increased investment in Israel bonds for the extension of its industry and export trade.
With characteristic intensity, Mr. Ben-Gurion stressed the importance of the settlement and development of the Negev, the southern desert which makes up 60 percent of Israel. “The Negev must not remain a desert, ” he told the audience. “Israel will not achieve its fullest potential of economic growth unless the Negev is made a center of new industry, he said.
BEN-GURION STRESSES ADVANTAGE OF DEVELOPING THE NEGEV
“We have one big advantage over America and Europe in developing our trade with Asian and African countries,” he declared. “We are closer to them. Therefore, if we build new industrial plants in the Negev, we will be in a position to increase our exports to these countries (through the Red Sea port of Eilat) because it will take them years to bring a development of their economies up to our level. In turning the Negev into a source of new industrial exports, we will hasten the attainment of our goals of economic independence.”
Pointing out that “there were 5, 000, 000 or 6, 000, 000 Jews during the time of the Roman Empire,” Mr. Ben-Gurion said: “If it had not been for wholesale persecution and murder and assimilation, there would have been more than 100, 000, 000 Jews in the world today, instead of 13, 000, 000.” He added that “if you do not teach your children the Bible, I doubt whether Judaism or the Jewish people will survive. It is the Bible that has kept us alive all these centuries and it is the Bible that holds the greatest hope for our survival in the future.”
In his address of tribute to Mr. Ben-Gurion, Dr. Schwartz drew a parallel between the former Prime Minister’s life and the entire history of the Jews during the past 80 years. He stressed the importance of the ties between Jews in America and Israel, and the important role which American Jews have played in aiding the country’s development, “This is the mission of Israel Bonds,” he said, “the mission of the continuing, the uninterrupted, the undiminished partnership of achievement that will live forever in history and that will be a rich legacy for countless generations of Jews.”
Samuel Rothberg, national campaign chairman of the Israel Bond Organization, said: “The Israel Bond Organization, which Mr. Ben-Gurion created and which has become the most important single instrument in the economic development of Israel, has at its core the responsibility of the free world to place on a firm and lasting foundation the homeland which the surviving victims of Hitlerism and other refugees have built in Israel.