Navon Kicks off Israel 40 Celebration

Israel’s President Chaim Herzog will come to the United States on an official state visit at the beginning of next month as part of Israel’s 40th anniversary celebration. Herzog will meet with President Reagan, high-ranking officials and Jewish leaders.

Herzog’s upcoming visit was announced at a news conference here Wednesday, where Yitzhak Navon, Israel’s Education Minister, who is chairman of Israel’s committee on the 40th anniversary, and Howard Squadron, chairman of the U.S. committee for Israel’s 40th anniversary, launched the year-long celebrations of Israel’s 40th year of statehood.

Navon and Squadron described the celebration, which begins this month and continues through December 1988, as “unprecedented in scope.” It will include thousands of events and performances in Israel and the United States, involving tens of thousands of people and reaching audiences of millions in both countries.

Navon, who is Israel’s former president, said that the major theme of the celebrations in Israel will be Israel’s Declaration of Independence of May 14, 1948. He said that hundreds of educational, cultural and sports events will take place in the country, many of them designed to make Israel one of the world’s outstanding tourist attractions next year. Among the major events, Navon said, will be international festivals of theater, film, dance, music and art. A major jazz festival in the Negev is expected to attract some 150,000 people, and a major exhibition in Tel Aviv’s exhibition park will display Israel’s achievements during the last 40 years, the Minister said. Navon said that the Israeli government has allocated a budget of about $10 million for the celebrations in Israel. Squadron said that Israel’s 40th anniversary will be observed and celebrated in thousands of communities across the U.S. Among the events, he said, will be television specials, a special U.S. Postal Service cancellation, cultural and student exchanges, parades and contests.

“We are pleased because we have so much to celebrate,” Squadron declared. “We will celebrate the unprecedented depth of friendship between Israel and the U.S. We will celebrate the important role American Jewry and the American people have played in the development of Israel, and the special relationship that Israel enjoys with our country and with the Jewish community.”

In a meeting of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations prior to the news conference, the National Committee for Israel’s 40th Anniversary released a 25-page guide to events and resources reflecting the involvement of thousands of communities and groups in the celebration in the U.S. The National Committee also unveiled at the meeting the special symbol of the 40th anniversary. The logo, which was designed in Israel, features a menorah positioned between the numerals 4 and 0 above the word “Israel” in Hebrew and English.

The National Committee is coordinated by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

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