NEW YORK (Mar. 21)
The United Jewish Appeal of Greater New York has launched its 33rd annual drive with an unprecedented sum of $35 million in its community-wide campaign for the $150 million which the New York area UJA aims to raise this year. Saul P. Steinberg, chairman of the Israel Emergency Fund and honorary chairman of New York’s UJA trustees, reported that the $35 million included eight gifts of more than $1 million each totaling $10.5 million. In his report to the UJA’s inaugural dinner last Thursday, Steinberg said that last year there had been only four $1 million gifts pledged to the campaign. Scores of donors at the dinner expressed their intense concern for the safety of Israel by doubling, tripling and quadrupling their contributions of last year. Each response was greeted by tumultuous applause. Israel’s Foreign Minister Abba Eban, addressing the more than 1300 persons attending the dinner, quipped about this unstinting support when he said: “My mission here tonight was to fire you with enthusiasm for giving. You’ve done that quite well even before I’ve begun to speak. My mission now is to see to it that you don’t ask for your money back.”
When the applause and laughter subsided. Eban told the hushed audience that Israel is willing to discuss all the elements that are currently involved in the conflict between itself and Egypt. But under no circumstances, he emphasized, would Israel return to “the conditions of peril and vulnerability from which we so narrowly escaped” in 1967. Eban delivered a hopeful message that the chances for peace would be better now than ever before and that 1971 could yet see new horizons in the march toward peace. He noted that in contrast to the exchange of bombs between Egypt and Israel until the cease-fire of August, 1970, the two countries are now going through what he called “an eccentric and unusual dialogue.” The unusual nature of this dialogue, he said, was that while there is no human contact between the governments concerned with making peace, they are sending documents to each other which are reported to the press. “Let us say that they are now exchanging documents instead of shells.” He said that the new stirring of peace was due to a multiplicity of factors, the most important of which was that Israel “stood firm” and “tenaciously clung to demands for a genuine peace agreement,” and the role of the U.S. in helping to secure the cease-fire.