TEL AVIV (May. 7)
Two matters of immediate concern — rising tension with Syria and the exposure of an organized Jewish terrorist network on the West Bank — were addressed by Premier Yitzhak Shamir and President Chaim Herzog in Independence Day radio talks today.
But the majority of Israelis seemed anxious to forget such troubles, at least for a while, and took to the seashore and countryside in record numbers to celebrate the 36th anniversary of the Jewish State under sunny skies.
WORKING TO FREE THREE CAPTURED ISRAELIS
Shamir spoke at length on the seizure by Syrian forces last week of three members of the Israeli mission in Beirut. He said the government was working actively on a “daily” basis to secure their release and hoped the men would be able to return home shortly.
He said Israel has no intention of closing its liaison office with the Lebanese government, located just north of Beirut. It operates with the full knowledge and consent of that government and maintains important contacts with many elements of Beirut society, he said. Israel has an interest in establishing and keeping such contacts in as many of its neighboring countries as possible, “even if such an office is not overly active,” Shamir said.
Chief of Staff Gen, Moshe Levy said in a television interview today that there was no increase of tension where the Israel Defense Force faces the Syrian army in Lebanon.
The army is prepared to alter its deployment in Lebanon but is waiting for political developments before moving, Levy said. He added that the IDF will take all possible measures to ensure the security of Israel’s northern borders against terrorist attacks.
HERZOG CONDEMNS VIGILANTES
Herzog’s Independence Day message to Israelis was an appeal for tolerance and condemnation of those who take the law into their own hands. He referred specifically to the mounting evidence of a Jewish underground that has surfaced since security forces foiled an attempt to sabotage Arab-owned buses in East Jerusalem last month.
“During the past year mad actions of unbalanced and irresponsible persons have come to light. They could have brought disaster the people of Israel the State and the entire Zionist enterprise,” he said. “I have no words harsh enough to condemn these deeds of people prepared to revolt against our sovereignty and to deny the authority of the government of Israel. These are treasonous acts which imperil the independence we celebrate today.”
Herzog added: “Random attacks on persons of another origin inevitably lead to attacks on persons of other opinions. We are a pluralistic nation, composed of many different strands and cultures–Jews, Moslems, Druze, Christians. This multiplicity necessitates a high degree of tolerance and mutual understanding.
“We see signs of dangerous group tensions and it is our moral obligation never to forget the commandment: The stranger that dwells with you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself.”
The Council of Jewish Settlements in Judaea, Samaria and Gaza, expressed regret over Herzog’s remarks. It accused the President of pre-judging people against whom no charges have been made so far and said he compounded the injustice by expressing himself in that manner on Independence Day which symbolized national unity.
A PERVASIVE HOLIDAY MOOD
Israelis who did not travel en-masse to the beaches and picnic grounds queued up outside army camps and other military establishments, including defense industries, which were opened to the public today.
Thousands jammed the Ramat Gan stadium for a soccer match between the National Football Team and the Army II. That event was highlighted by an Air Force display and free-fall parachute jump by men and women soldiers who demonstrated their precision by dropping from the skies to the center of the arena.
There was a similar display for the throngs on the beach in Herzliya. Other events were the annual Bible quiz and the President’s reception for the foreign diplomatic corps.
The streets of Israeli cities and towns were decorated with flags and blue-and-white bunting waving in the warm breeze. But for fewer shops and private homes displayed flags today than on previous Independence Days and the usual photographs of political and military leaders were absent from most shop windows.