NEW YORK (Jan. 20)
Ehud Avriel, Israel’s Consul General in Chicago, believes that Israel should tell American Jews simply and directly that the Jewish State needs aliya now more than anything else and that the tasks and challenges facing Israel are too many to be fulfilled by the people of Israel alone.
In an interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency while visiting New York, the 59-year-old veteran diplomat, who assumed his post in Chicago two years ago, said: “For many years Israel did not present to American Jewry the need for more people to help us build the country and develop Israeli society. We approached American Jewry only with regard to financial matters. We were careful not to mention the word aliya and up to the present time we do not say clearly that we need the support of American Jews in terms of aliya.”
Avriel contended that any Jew who considers himself a Zionist “must understand that his personal involvement in the building of Israel is a must. The State of Israel is not yet standing on a solid ground. The tasks are numerous and I believe that if we make this clear the response of the American Jewish community will be one of understanding.” Israeli representatives in the United States and elsewhere, Avriel asserted, must be identified completely with the “Zionist solution” which, he said, means aliya to Israel.
FINANCIAL CONTRIBUTIONS ARE IMPORTANT
But Avriel, a kibbutz member who was a key figure in the pre-State arms procurement organization and who served in numerous diplomatic posts, most recently as Israel’s ambassador to Italy, said he does not discount the financial support given to Israel by American Jewry. “Contributions to Israel are important not only because of the financial aspect but also because of the fact that any contributor, by the act of giving money, creates a personal contact with Israel and gets involved in the Jewish community where he lives,” he said.
According to Avriel, Israel can be a special answer for American Jewish youth who seek new meaning and new challenges in their lives. “Israeli society can give young American Jews the feeling that with their activity they can shape the society they live in,” he stated. “Israeli society, unlike American society, is in a process of development and formation, and American youngsters can take part in its molding and future.”
During the 1960s Avriel was identified with the Rafi faction of the Labor Party then headed by former Premier David Ben Gurion. Recently Avriel announced that he joined Yigal Yadin’s Democratic Movement for Change. He said, however, that he has not yet reached a decision whether he would leave the Foreign Ministry to run for office on Yadin’s list in the May 17 Israeli general election.