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Ben-gurion Leaves for London; Calls Talk with Kennedy ‘constructive’

June 2, 1961
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Israel’s Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion today completed his “flying visits” to Canada and the United States and left in the afternoon on an El Al plane for London to start talks tomorrow there with British Prime Minister Harold MacMilland and Foreign Secretary Lord Home. He will also meet with Sir Winston Churchill.

Prior to his leaving the United States, Mr. Ben-Gurion issued a statement at International Airport here expressing “great pleasure” over his meeting with President Kennedy this week. “It was a great pleasure to have a constructive exchange of views with him” he declared.

“I am very glad indeed,” Mr. Ben-Gurion said, “to have had the opportunity to stop over here for a few days after my visit to Canada. They have been busy days, but most enjoyable. It was good to see again many old friends and acquaintances.

“I was touched by the warmth of the reception accorded to me by my friends in the Zionist movement and the heads of American Jewish organizations. The warmth of the welcome and reception accorded to me has moved me greatly and has served again as eloquent witness of the cordiality of the relations between our two countries.”

Prior to leaving New York, the Israel Prime Minister had luncheon today with former President Harry Truman. He told Mr. Truman: “You will live in history–not only in American history but in Israel’s history as well.” He also wanted to know when Mr. Truman will come to visit Israel. “You know you have a standing invitation,” he told the former President. Mr. Truman replied that he hopes to come to Israel. He said after the meeting with Mr. Ben-Gurion that his talk with the Israel Prime Minister was “very pleasant.”


Earlier in the day Mr. Ben-Gurion addressed 300 leaders of the United Jewish Appeal at a meeting at the Essex House here, at which it was announced that the UJA in New York had already raised $19,000,000 as its share of this year’s drive. The Prime Minister told the audience that the hopes American Jewry will emulate the example of the U.S. Government in organizing a peace corps and will form a “constructive peace corps to help our old great nation.”

“I visited Canada and also for a short time, America,” Mr. Ben-Gurion told the UJA leaders, “and I never saw a more devoted Jewish community than in Canada and in America. You did not disappoint us and we hope we did not disappoint you.

“As you know, we have brought in to our country 1,000,000 Jews, 55 percent of whom came from African and Asian countries and these came with insufficient skills and inadequate education. We must provide housing, education and skills for these people. We expect a large number of additional Jews in the foreseeable future and we must prepare. Our main tasks ahead require that we settle and educate those who come and we must make sure that all of our people are on the same educational and skillful level as are the Jews from Europe. We must all be equal in education and in living standards.

“As to our relations with our neighbors, I have not the slightest doubt that peace will come. But for years–I don’t know how many years–we must strengthen our defenses if God forbid an attack should come, Israel’s Army is and must always be ready to defend the country and will defend the country.

“We owe obligations, great obligations, to all humanity,” Mr. Ben-Gurion continued. “We have been helped by your country, by France and other countries. Your Government, England and other countries recognize the great value of our help to the newer free countries of Asia and Africa. We and the other free nations of the world will win the cold war, we will win the hearts and the minds of free men all over the world.”

Adlai Stevenson, chairman of the American UN delegation, was Mr. Ben-Gurion’s last visitor before the Premier left for the airport for his London trip. In a conversation termed “very cordial,” Mr. Ben-Gurion was reported to have laid great stress on the Arab refugee problem. He was understood to have pointed out to Mr. Stevenson that the resettlement of the refugees had not been given adequate consideration and that neighboring Arab countries had ample room for such resettlement.

Mr. Ben-Gurion started his morning today with a brief visit from Professor Rodriguez Fabrigat of Uruguay, who has been Uruguay’s permanent representative to the United Nations for many years. The meeting was termed a personal courtesy call.

The Prime Minister then had breakfast at a conference which lasted 90 minutes with George Meany, president of the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations, and other top American labor leaders.

New York Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller then came for a 15-minute visit and Mr. Ben-Gurion went to another part of the hotel for a meeting with the national executive committee of Hadassah. Twenty Hadassah leaders attended the meeting where the Prime Minister was greeted warmly on behalf of Hadassah by Mrs. Siegfried Kramarsky, Hadassah president. In this meeting, the Prime Minister reiterated his well-known theme of immigration to Israel being the keystone of Zionism.


At International Airport, just before he boarded the plane for London, Mr. Ben-Gurion revealed that President Kennedy has a plan for the solution of the Arab refugee problem. “I had a very large measure of agreement with the President of the United States,” he said referring to the Arab refugee problem. He made that statement in response to a question as to whether he discussed the refugee problem with President Kennedy and he said: “Yes, if the Arabs accept it, there will be a solution.”

In answer to whether he found mutual understanding with Americans, he replied: “I came to see if there is mutual understanding and found there is great understanding and great interest.”

In reply to another question as to whether he had mentioned to President Kennedy the shipment of Communist arms to the Middle East, he replied: “You mean Soviet shipments? Yes.” He declined to answer a question as to whether he had asked President Kennedy for military aid from the United States.

Mr. Ben-Gurion was asked by several newspapermen at the airport whether he had heard expressions from American Zionists during his visit here about his stand on Zionism. “They are always vocal,” he said, “why shouldn’t they be?”

Asked whether he felt he had made an impact on American Jews that would result in increased American Jewish immigration to Israel, he replied: “How many Jews will go to Israel? I don’t know. You Americans ought to know better.”

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