Israel President Offers ‘hand of Peace’ to Arabs in Independence Day Message

Israel’s hand of peace to its Arab neighbors was extended today by President Zalman Shazar in a message of greetings on the occasion of the 19th anniversary of Israel’s independence which will be celebrated next Monday. Mr Shazar regretfully noted that “the harmony in which we wish to live with our neighbors is very slow in coming” and that border tensions continue. But, he added, “despite the pangs of defense, and in the very midst of defense, let our hand be extended in blessing and peace to all our neighbors.”

Reviewing events of the past 12 months, President Shazar said that Israel’s relations both with Jewish communities and with many nations of the world had expanded and deepened. The exchange of visitors between Israel and other countries, both on official and unofficial occasions, including diplomats, economists, men of letters and scientists, had proved mutually beneficial, he indicated. And in Jewish communities abroad, contact with modern Israel has “aroused striking manifestations of ardent mass response,” Mr. Shazar declared.

Interest in Israel among diaspora Jewry, he said, was associated with “a growing movement toward Hebrew, religious and national education.” In addition, he noted than an increasing number of students from abroad were enrolling in Israel’s institutions of higher learning. In the period ahead, he said, Israel “must devote ever greater attention to the advancement of education and culture, of traditional learning and knowledge among all sectors of the nations. For if our roots grow weak, our plants may not be strong enough to withstand the storms that assail them and the seasons of temporary distress.”

SEES ‘PROMISING SIGNS’ IN ISRAEL’S PRESENT ECONOMIC SITUATION

Turning to Israel’s economic situation, the President observed that there were promising signs on the present economic horizon, including improved balance of payments and narrowing of the import-export gap, expansion of foreign markets, greater agricultural output, and the growing influx of tourists.

Addressing himself to Jews in other countries, Mr, Shazar noted that Israel is “a land of immigration, and that, even though the stream is now weaker, newcomers continue to come; even from affluent countries. May Israel find the defenders of its economy and its continued aliyah (immigration) no less stalwart and no less dependable than the defenders of its national security. This is the hour for its faithful friends in the diaspora to summon up initiative, knowledge and vigor for the reinforcement of our endeavor here.”

In concluding his message, the Israeli President said,”We pray it will be given to us to see with our own eyes what the wisest of men declared in his Proverb: ‘When a man’s ways please the Lord, He maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.’ May the peace we so hope and long for draw nearer and come to us in this next year, the 20th year of the independence of the State of Israel.”

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