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Eban Calls on Labor Zionism to Take Initiative in Defining New National Vision for Israel

Former Foreign Minister Abba Eban called on Labor Zionism to take the initiative in defining a new national vision for Israel that would embrace peace with its neighbors and the social structure within its own borders. The Israeli diplomat addressed the 52nd annual national convention of the National Committee for Labor Israel here. “The urgent task of the labor movement is to rise above pragmatism in order to define a national vision with some degree of elevation and with a frank appeal to international and social idealism,” Eban declared.

He said that “The central theme of the American-Israeli dialogue after the Egyptian-Israel agreement should be an attempt to reach a common understanding on the basic conditions of an overall peace, including the boundary question. This task is not by any means easy, but it is not inherently impossible,” Eban said.

“If Israel seeks only those boundary changes for which a strong case can be made in terms of peace and security, the gap between Washington and Jerusalem might turn out to be narrower than is feared. In any case,” Eban asserted, “it is doubtful if there is any room for further fragmentary settlements. Future negotiations will have to be in a larger context probably involving the Soviet Union as well as the United States.”

$1 MILLION GRANT FROM THE ILGWU

The convention was highlighted by the announcement of a $1 million grant from the International Ladies Garment Workers Union to help build a new Histadrut hospital center in Israel. According to Sol C. Chaikin, ILGWU president, and David Dubinsky and Louis Stulberg, past presidents of the union, the gift will help finance a 330-bed facility now under construction at Kfar Saba near Tel Aviv. It will bear Stulberg’s name and is intended to serve the population of the Sharon Valley. The total building cost is $12 million.

Sol Stein, president of the Israel Histadrut Foundation of the NCLI, announced that new commitments amounting to $4.8 million have been obtained by the Foundation during the past fiscal year. He reported that in the past 15 years, the Foundation has received long-term commitments of $40 million to help finance mortgages for young couples and army veterans in Israel and for the wide range of health, educational and welfare institutions maintained by Histadrut. According to Bernard B. Jacobson, executive vice-president of the NCLI, $3.7 million in cash has been raised through the Israel Histadrut campaign in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30.

PROGRAM FOR SECURITY

Eban told the 2000 delegates attending the three-day convention that ended yesterday that there were two fundamentally different schools of thought about Israel’s security within Israel itself. One, he said, “is willing to accept–indeed impose–Israeli rule over an Arab population so large as to constitute a separate national entity. It appeals to a rigorous, fervent, unscholarly and selective interpretation of Biblical texts to give authority to its policy. It is plain that if Israel were to accept this school of thought Labor Zionism would be in total eclipse and the ideal of an essentially Jewish democratic and progressive state would have been lost.”

Israel should seek, Eban asserted, “a security based on a negotiated peace, enhanced by open frontiers, buttressed by a balance of power, shielded by massive demilitarization, reinforced by modest territorial adjustments guaranteed by an overwhelmingly Jewish preponderance and supported by a broad international consensus.”

Eban said Labor Zionism would have to declare its position on the future Israeli society. “The problem is to reconcile cooperative and collective initiative with the needs of a mixed economy dependent on technology and investment closely linked to American and European support,” he said.

On Israeli-diaspora relations, the former Foreign Minister who is now a Knesset member, said the dialogue was “spiritually diminished if it is only considered on the basis of filling vacancies in established veteran structures. The question is whether these structures and institutions are fully relevant to the needs of Israel or the mood of American Jewry. The Israel government should assume full responsibility for promoting immigration as well as for facilitating absorption; and the relations with diaspora Jewry should be more closely integrated into the external relations of Israel and its general information programs.”

The convention received telegrams of greeting from President Ford; President Ephraim Katzir of Israel; Premier Yitzhak Rabin; and Senators Jacob K. Javits (R.NY) and Hubert H. Humphrey (D.Minn.). Dr. Judah J. Shapiro was reelected president of National Committee for Labor Israel.

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