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Weizmann Centenary Underway

The Weizmann Centenary, a full year of celebrations and symposiums marking the 100th anniversary of the birth of Israel’s first President, the late Dr. Chaim Weizmann, got underway In Israel this week with addresses by President Ephraim Katzir and Premier Yitzhak Rabin. Both recalled Dr. Weizmann’s prescience in foreseeing the present confrontation between Jewish and Arab national aspirations.

Rabin told a Centenary Assembly at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovoth that Dr. Weizmann was the first Zionist leader to grasp the significance of the clash between the Jewish need for a national home and resurgent Arab nationalism. “He looked for Arab leaders whom he could convince that Jewish and Arab nationalism need not necessarily rule each other out and that peaceful co-existence was possible,” Rabin said.

“He was the first Zionist leader to prove that Israel was ready, in its pursuit of peace, to meet her neighbors anywhere, any time, the Premier noted. He declared that “If Weizmann were alive today, he might have said: ‘The exile lasted 2000 years and now the Jewish nation must show patience because patience is a Jewish weapon and we have to use it wisely.” Rabin recalled that many had considered Dr. Weizmann over-optimistic for thinking it was possible to attain peace with the Arabs in one stage. “The truth is, however, that Weizmann had a realistic attitude. He foresaw that it would be a prolonged and cruel struggle to establish the State and maintain it,” Rabin, said.

Katzir spoke at a Centenary gathering in the Knesset lobby and later addressed the Knesset chamber. He said Dr. Weizmann had been one of the first Zionist leaders to understand the implications of the Arab problem and to stress that the revival of Jewish nationhood need not be at the expense of the Arabs.

Katzir, who, like Weizmann, is a bio-chemist, noted that Israel’s first President foresaw a world energy crisis as early as 1918 and searched for means to produce fuel synthetically. He also recalled his first meeting with Dr. Weizmann many years ago. The first President told the man des-tined to become Israel’s fourth President: “Young man, you have the makings of a good scientist. For heaven’s sake, don’t let yourself be sidetracked into politics.”

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