Navon Launches Ben Gurion Centennial Year in the U.S.
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Navon Launches Ben Gurion Centennial Year in the U.S.

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Former President Yitzhak Navon of Israel launched the Ben Gurion Centennial Year Celebration in the United States with a call to the Jewish people to complete the legacy of Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion, in three areas that were especially close to him, which still await fulfillment.

They are, Navon said, settlement of the desolate Negev which comprises 60 percent of the area of the State of Israel and is the place where Ben Gurion lived and is buried; advance the scientific and technological levels of the State of Israel; and give all Jewish children in the diaspora a meaningful Jewish education.

Navon, who is Minister of Education and Culture in the Israeli Cabinet, addressed more than 800 persons at a gala Israel Independence Day celebration co-sponsored by the World Zionist Organization-American Section and the American Zionist Federation at the New York Hilton Hotel here.

Honored by the WZO and AZF on this occasion were Max Fisher of Detroit, who was cited as a “preeminent leader of the American Jewish community,” and George Segal, sculptor, and Theodore Bikel, actor, who were presented with the Israel Achievement Awards by Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S., Meir Rosenne. Bernice Tannenbaum, chairperson of the WZO-American Section, and Ben Cohen, president of the AZF, presided.

Navon said, “If we wish to uphold the legacy of Ben Gurion, we must enlist the Jewish people to the exalted task of making this the year in which the desert begins to flourish, and cities, villages and settlements are founded in the Negev, where he lived and died, and which he envisioned as the reclaimed and flourishing heartland of Israel’s future.”

Navon announced that President Reagan has agreed to be Honorary Chairman of the American Committee of the Ben Gurion Centennial Celebration. He said that “the Centennial of the birth of the ‘Founding Father’ of Israel honors the man whose prophetic vision, indomitable will and labor helped to create the social and political basis of the Jewish State.”

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