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Herzog’s Independence Day Message

President Chaim Herzog issued a message marking Israel’s 37th Independence Day, April 25. It states, in part:

Very close to our commemoration of the establishment of the State of Israel thirty-seven years ago, the world will be marking the fortieth anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany. There is much more than a closeness in time between the two anniversaries; there is an unbreakable bond.

Without the victory over Hitler, the very existence of the Jewish people would have been gravely endangered; the broken survivors in the Camps would not have been rescued; we would not have been afforded the great, new opening given us by the establishment of the State of Israel.

Since then, there have been many landmarks in Israel’s history which are all too easily taken for granted. The Magic Carpet from Yemen, the airlift of Iraqi Jewry, the arrival of North African Jewry, the absorption of tens of thousands from the Soviet Union, the Six-Day War, the reunification of Jerusalem, the heroism of the Yom Kippur War, the rescue at Entebbe, and now the absorption of Ethiopian Jewry — all of these signify the greatness of Israel, the new life it has breathed into Jewry, the unexpected reservoirs of strength, talent and daring it has brought forth.

At this hour of celebration, our thoughts go out to our brothers and sisters in the Soviet Union who are denied both the right to live there as Jews and the freedom to join our Jewish family in Israel. We pray that Israel’s thirty-eighth year will witness the opening of the gates for them, together with other oppressed Jewish communities such as that of Syria.

We face painful adjustments in another vital area–the withdrawal of our forces from Lebanon. We are interested in a sovereign and independent Lebanon, free of foreign forces on its soil … We will continue to work for this, but we will take all steps necessary to keep our northern towns and villages free from the nightmare of Katyusha attacks.

We continue to face many difficulties. No society is without its weaknesses, but every society must be judged by the freedom of its population to deal with inadequacies. As we face this struggle, we are aware that, despite the hostility against us in many parts of the world, notably the Communist and Islamic lands, we are not alone.

The closest of our allies are the Jewish communities of the free world. We invite them to implement this partnership by strengthening aliya to Israel. Israel, with all its growing pains and difficulties, is the central Jewish experience, the expression of Jewish culture as it can be lived only in majority conditions.

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