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Koach Mission in Israel

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The largest United Jewish Appeal mission ever to come to Israel arrived here yesterday after four days of tours throughout the country. One thousand young Jewish leaders, members of the Koach Mission, led by Alan Rudy of Houston, Texas, who is the chairman of the UJA’s Young Leadership Cabinet, are in Israel to show their solidarity with the Jewish State. The mission had been a year in preparation. The idea for it was sparked by PLO chief Yasir Arafat’s address to the UN last year, according to UJA spokesman Rafi Bar-Am.

The mission members are meeting with top Israeli officials and with Israelis of all walks of life to get an in-depth and broad sweep view of the country, its institutions, it achievements and problems. The person-to-person arrangements for the acquaintanceships with hundreds of Israel families were made by the “Dor Hemshech” (young leadership) section of the World Zionist Organization, lead by Laborite Uri Gordon, Discussions between the mission members and Israelis have taken place at border outposts, in private homes, in hotel dining rooms and in market places.

VISIT VARIOUS AREAS

The visitors have packed the halls of Joint Distribution Committee institutions throughout the country, visited the Golan Heights to better grasp the issue involved in that area, went to an airforce base where they were shown the modern equipment (with prices of each article attached), and attended social events in Tel Aviv Haifa, Nahariya and several kibbutzim.

On one occasion some of the mission members crossed the Israel-Lebanon border into no-man’s land under the close surveillance of Israeli border patrols, “I feel safer here than I do crossing the streets of New York,” said one woman. Another group spent the first day of the 10-day tour in a field study of the history and culture of Israel, including a close look at some of Israel’s minorities, especially the Druze.

MARCH THROUGH JERUSALEM

Today they marched through the streets of Jerusalem, each of the Koach Mission members bearing a banner with the name of each person’s community. Each marcher carried a sign proclaiming, “I am a Zionist.” Thousands of Jerusalemites who lined the route of the march from one end of the city to the other waved and applauded. The march was followed by a get-together with Defense Minister Shimon Peres.

Last night the Koach Mission members and their Israeli hosts met with Premier Yitzhak Rabin where he analyzed the meaning of the General Assembly anti-Israeli resolutions as aiming against the very existence of Israel. “The future of Israel” Rabin declared, “depends on Israel on the one hand and on American Jewry on the other.” In a moving address, which earned him a standing ovation, Jewish Agency Director-General Moshe Rivlin, urged the mission members and their friends to make aliya, “Never again can we permit ourselves to say that we did not know what the rest of the world had in store for us,” Rivlin said.

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