Navon Says All Israelis Are United by a ‘thirst of Peace’

Israeli President Yitzhak Navon stressed last night that while all Israelis regardless of their other differences are united by a “thirst of peace” they will not sacrifice their security for it.

“I don’t know of any other people who want peace with all its heart because we have suffered so much the past 34 years” with six wars since the establishment of the State of Israel, Navon told more than 1000 persons at the Washington Hebrew Congregation at a community meeting sponsored by the Jewish Community Council of Greater Washington.

“We have had enough,” Navon added. “But the price is not giving up our main assurances and guarantees of existence and of security.” Israelis are determined “to live in secure and defensible boundaries,” to see that Jerusalem remains a “united city” and “not to let terrorist organizations dictate to us,” Navon declared.

PROBLEMS FACED BY ISRAEL, DIASPORA

At the same time he outlined problems that were faced by Israel and by diaspora Jewry. For Israel, he said the major problems, in addition to guaranteeing its existence, were to settle the Negev, which he said is 60 percent of Israel’s land, and to solve the problem of the social gap.

Navon stressed that Israelis do not consider themselves a separate entity. “We are part of the Jewish people. Whatever happens in the entire Jewish world is of prime interest to us,” he declared.

The Israeli President listed three problems in the diaspora. The first was education. Noting that the majority of Jewish children in the U.S. get no Jewish education, he said a “greater effort to increase” Jewish education must be made. Secondly, he urged increasing the Jewish birth rate.

Finally, Navon said the most important goal is aliya. He said while the Western countries have wealth, aliya can provide something for the “neshuma, the soul.” But he said until that time comes there is a need to “strengthen the lines” between Israel and the diaspora. He said this could be done by tourism — more than half of American Jews have never visited Israel, Navon noted — sending children to study there and by such things as buying Israeli products.

RECEPTION FOR THE NAVONS

After the meeting at the Washington Hebrew Congregation, Navon went to the Israel Embassy where Ambassador Moshe Arens and his wife, Muriel, hosted a reception for Navon and his wife, Ofira. Some 800 persons attended, including members of the Reagan Administration, Congressmen and Jewish leaders. Among those present were Philip Habib, President Reagan’s special envoy for the Middle East, Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, Agriculture Secretary John Block and AFL-CIO president Lane Kirkland.

This afternoon, Navon spoke at the National Press Club. (See P. 3.)

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