Katzir: 5738 Will Be a Decisive Year in the Annals of the Middle East

President Ephraim Katzir said in a Rosh Hashanah message to world Jewry, released here today, that “It seems clear that 5738 (the new year of the Hebrew calendar) will be a decisive year in the annals of the modern Middle East.” He cautioned that “For us there are no easy answers. We who know with utmost clarity the basic requirements of Israel’s survival cannot condone trifling with them for the sake of greater acceptability and popularity in the outside world.”

The President enumerated the problems that will continue to confront Israel in the new year: “The threat of terrorism; the menacing, colossal growth of Arab military and financial resources and the widespread Arab boycott endeavor; the grove effort we must make for humane co-existence in all the territory under Israeli administration; economic inflation and the constant endeavor to increase productivity and to narrow the gap in living standards; the environmental and energy crisis from which Israel cannot be exempt.”

Katzir observed that “Despite all this, the experience of the past makes us confident that there will be counter-factors, rewarding and promising developments, advances toward conditions and achievements we hope and wish to see in Israel.”

The President said that “In the search for peace, we are particularly appreciative of the efforts of the United States Government-and of men of good will everywhere. How noble an achievement it would be to restore peace to the land where the vision of international peace was first expressed by the prophets of Israel so many centuries ago.”

GROWING ISRAEL-DIASPORA RELATIONSHIP

Katzir stressed that “One of the foundation stones of Israel’s life is its constantly growing relationship with Jews abroad. In addition to the scores of international scientific, cultural and professional conferences held annually in Israel, conventions, meetings and pilgrimages of Jewish groups bring the Diaspora to Israel and Israel to the consciousness of the Diaspora. Israelis have come to know, at first hand, most of the great Zionist, religious and communal organizations of the Jewish world,” he said.

He also observed that “To see each other as human beings may well be the beginning of wisdom and cooperation in this Middle East crisis.” In that connection he cited the “good fence” on the Lebanese border which he hoped “may be the prelude to true, fruitful peace between Israel and its neighbors.”

Katzir said finally that “Israel is deeply appreciative of the help, concern and involvement of world Jewry. But our true desire is for real partnership that will express itself in joint educational, cultural and social projects reflecting the moral and intellectual values of the Jewish heritage. The Hebrew language, the challenge of aliya-these must be shared by Jews everywhere, and these will enrich the life of both community and individual.”

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