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Modai, Rothberg Promise Bond Leaders Cross-israel Canal Will Be Completed Within Decade

Israeli Energy Minister Yitzhak Modai told a gathering of more than 1,000 international Jewish leaders last night that the proposed Mediterranean-Dead Sea Canal project will be completed and implemented within ten years.

Modai’s brief remarks concluded a gala dinner at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in tribute to Sam Rothberg, general chairman of the Israel Bond Organization and one of the organization’s founders. The tribute was in recognition of his 40 years of service to Israel and the Jewish people.

Modai, who represented the Israeli government, called Rothberg an outstanding man for his work on behalf of Israel. The dinner was sponsored by the Israel Bond Organization and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, whose international board of governors Rothberg chaired for 13 years. He retired from the post in 1981.

$63 MILLION IN BONDS SOLD

It was announced that $63 million in Israel Bonds were sold. Of that total figure, $36 million was in cash and $27 million represented new commitments to purchase Israel Bonds.

Rothberg announced the completion of the Bond Organization’s campaign to provide $100 million in seed money for the canal project. “Two and a half years ago we undertook to provide seed money for this project and we have met our goal,” he said. “The canal will be built, not now, but two or three years down the road when the equity financing has been put together.”

He said the canal project has been put on hold because of other more pressing priorities, such as the costs of the war in Lebanon. He said that $12.5 million will be used for further feasibility studies and planning for the project.

GOLDA MEIR FELLOWSHIP LAUNCHED

Rothberg also announced a personal contribution of $1 million toward the launching of a $10 million campaign to establish the Golda Meir Fellowship Fund for college graduates to study at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He said the fund was to honor the memory of a “heroic stateswoman who brought something special into our lives — the courage, the inspiration, the flame and fire of a people fighting for freedom.”

President Reagan, in a message to Rothberg read to the gathering, praised him “as an inspiring display of devotion to the finest ideals of humanitarian concern for others.” The Presidential message also said: “Whether helping refugees from the Holocaust or furthering the economic stability of Israel, you have played an instrumental part in securing a hopeful future for those depending on you.”

Israeli Premier Menachem Begin, who also sent a message praising Rothberg’s work, said “Your devotion to Israel’s cause is exemplary. Your work of 40 years is exceptional. May you continue your noble efforts for many, many years to come. We are grateful to you and all salute you in deep gratitude.”

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