Arab-israel Conflict Reaching a ‘turning Point,’ Premier Eshkol Reports
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Arab-israel Conflict Reaching a ‘turning Point,’ Premier Eshkol Reports

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Premier Levi Eshkol declared here tonight that the Middle East was nearing “a turning point” in its history, marked by a more realistic Arab policy toward Israel.

Speaking at a dinner in honor of the 11th United Jewish Appeal Study Mission, the Premier cited the proposal by Tunisian President Habib Bourguiba last spring, calling for Arab recognition of Israel’s existence and urging an Arab effort to join in a search for a peaceful solution to the Arab-Israel dispute.

The Premier said that while some elements of Bourguiba’s proposal were unacceptable, Israel welcomed the appeal for recognition and for an effort at a peaceful solution. He added that he agreed with Bourguiba’s statement that he was not the only Arab leader who believed in that approach.

Premier Eshkol told the UJA leaders that this did not mean that Israel could relax its vigilance. On the contrary, he stated, Israel must enhance the strength which he called the pre-condition for the new Arab realism.

He said Israel had noted that Egyptian President Nasser’s bid for Arab dominance was stagnating and even regressing. He said that Nasser’s fight over West Germany’s diplomatic recognition of Israel had proved that Nasser “can bluster and threaten but not deliver” in his bid to line up a united Arab front of reprisals against West Germany. There was growing bitterness in Egypt against the Nasser regime and thousands of Egyptians were imprisoned and in concentration camps for their opposition to the Nasser “dictatorship,” the Premier told the UJA leaders.


Discussing Israel’s ties with the West, the Premier singled out particularly the United States and President Johnson’s friendship. He also reaffirmed Israeli-France ties, declaring that the formal visit earlier this month by Egyptian Vice-President Amer to Paris was not at Israel’s expense.

Reporting that Israel was rapidly nearing the 3,000,000 point in population, the Premier said: “We passed a turning point also in the history of absorption of immigrants. I am happy to announce tonight that, once and for all, we are closing a chapter in that history called transit camps.” He qualified this statement by noting that thousands of immigrant families were still living in slum-like conditions.

He said that until recently Israel’s major effort was geared to absorption of newcomers but that now Israel must concentrate on raising the country’s educational level, particularly for new immigrants. Commenting that “we live in the era of a new technology,” he said: “We must ride this crest or fall into its backwash.” He called the Israel to the central aim of the ingathering of the exiles. He listed three spheres of joint responsibility of Israel and world Jewry: saving Jews, strengthening Israel and strengthening Jewish life in other countries.


Premier Eshkol’s speech, which highlighted the conclusion of the visit of the United Jewish Appeal Study Mission, was followed by an address by Max M. Fisher, UJA General Chairman, who announced that the UJA anticipates the raising of $60,000,000 this year in the United States and intends to seek greatly increased funds in its 1966 campaign.

At a session held earlier, the Study Mission leaders announced advanced personal gifts amounting to more than $3,000,000, the largest sum ever brought forward by a Mission group, to the 1966 UJA’s nationwide campaign. In addition, the Israel Education Fund of the United Jewish Appeal announced new gifts here totaling $1,000,000. Thus the Mission’s visit produced a total of approximately $4,000,000. The Mission members adopted a resolution, introduced by Albert Parker of New York, UJA Executive Committee member, which calls on the 3,000 American Jewish communities which conduct fund-raising campaigns for UJA to “do all within their power during 1966 to meet the regular budgets of the Jewish Agency and Joint Distribution Committee.” Mr. Fisher, addressing the gathering, listed four high priority tasks which UJA supporters and funds must help to meet in 1966, including:

1. A stepped up program to help Israel absorb 200,000 recent immigrants, from backward Asian and African countries, settled in 21 immigrant development towns throughout the country.

2. Large scale aid to help an anticipated 50,000 Jewish immigrants a year move from distressed areas of Europe, North Africa and Asia to Israel and Western lands.

3. Increased aid for some 400,000 distressed Jews residing in Europe and various Moslem lands.

4. Make up the loss of $17,500,000 which the Jewish Agency, the Joint Distribution Committee and the United Hias Service, all UJA beneficiaries, were receiving from German reparation funds for the last ten years, but which have now ended.

“It is urgent that American Jews provide greatly increased funds to help speed up the process of absorbing and aiding the immigrants they have helped to bring in,” Mr. Fisher declared. He also noted that the “ending of German reparation funds puts a severe strain on both the Jewish Agency and the Joint Distribution Committee at a time when the needs of those they serve are rising. The Jewish Agency will lose $10,000,000 annually which it has been receiving for the last ten years, beginning with 1966. The JDC and United Hias Service have lost $7,500,000 of similar funds this year. As a result the JDC suffered a 25 percent loss in its total income.

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