NEW YORK (May. 24)
Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon called last night on American Jewish youth to go on aliya to Israel and help meet the challenges facing the Jewish State.
“I can find no excuse for anyone not coming to live in Israel,” Sharon told some 400 Jewish students and members of Zionist youth organizations at a meeting at the Roosevelt Hotel here, sponsored and organized by the American Zionist Youth Foundation (AZYF). “Israel is a beautiful country and it is our homeland,” Sharon declared and, in response, received a standing ovation from the enthusiastic audience.
Sharon said that the task of developing Israel is continuing despite the enormous gains made so far. He said Israel should become a center for the arts, medicine and sciences as well as a country of “industry and production.” He said Israel needs American olim, not only investments, because “investments do not bring people — but people bring the investments.”
Sharon’s call for aliya was challenged, however, at one point by a member of a small group participating in the meeting which carried signs bearing the inscription “Peace Now.” The young man, who identified himself as a member of Dror-Habonim, asked Sharon: “How do you expect us to go on aliya to Israel while Israel has turned into South Africa no. 2?” The youth charged that Israeli policies against Palestinian Arabs are “repressive,” comparing them to the treatment of blacks by South Africa.
REJECTS COMPARISON WITH SOUTH AFRICA
Sharon rejected out of hand any comparison between the treatment of blacks in South Africa and the treatment of Arabs in Judaea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip. He said he believes that any Jew who makes such allegations is suffering from “a very deep inferiority complex.”
Sharon appealed, however, to all American Jewish youth, whatever their views are, to come and settle in Israel. He said if they oppose Israeli settlements in Judaea, Samaria and the Golan Heights, they can settle in the Negev, Galilee or any other part of Israel.
The Israeli Minister claimed that the goals of Zionism under the Likud government are the same as they were under the Labor-led government of the past. “Zionism has not changed. Our goal is to live in our homeland. Arabs have been living in our country for centuries — but this is the homeland of the Jews. The right over the country is ours. It has been so for the last 3700 years and if will be so for ever.”
Sharon, who arrived in New York last Thursday is scheduled to meet in Washington tomorrow with Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger and Secretary of State Alexander Haig. On Wednesday morning he will address in New York a meeting of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. According to an Israeli spokesman Sharon will meet here today with leading Wall Street businessmen.