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Begin to U.S. Jews. Unite Behind Israel ‘Under Any Circumstances’

March 8, 1979
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Premier Menachem Begin, in his last public appearance before returning to Israel tonight, urged American Jewry to "stand together" behind Israel "under any circumstances."

"This is my ultimate appear to you, "Begin today told more than 2000 representatives of Jewish communities from all over the United States at the Sheraton Centre Hotel. He pledged that American Jews will be "proud" of the Jewish State. "You know that Israel is ready to make sacrifices for peace, to take risks for peace, "Begin told the enthusiastic crowd. Urging unity "under any circumstances" was interpreted by observed as a call for unity even if the latest efforts to reach a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt should falter.

Claiming the American Jewish community is the "mightiest" in recent Jewish history and that American Jews at times underestimate their own influence, Begin said, "When the time comes, do not hesitate to use your influence." He added that if Israel will be strengthened as a result of this influence, America’s interests will be served as well.

Begin, whose speech was hooked up by telephone to a gathering of Jewish leaders in Los Angeles, also appealed to American Jews to come to live in Israel. "Start a real movement of aliya. Yes, yes we need you. Come, come to Eretz Yisrael, the land of our forefathers."

Visibly in a good mood, Begin began his speech by declaring: Today I bring you good tidings. Our mission to Washington has been successful. "He declined to divulge the contents of new proposals mode by President Carter and accepted by Israel. But he cautioned that "we are at a very delicate moment now, "and before a peace treaty between Egypt and Israel can be signed Egyptian President Anwar Sadat will have to accept the new proposals, which Carter, who is leaving tonight for Egypt, is bringing with him." With God’s will," Begin said, "we will very soon sign the peace treaty."

The Israeli Premier reiterated his suggestion that the peace treaty be signed in both Jerusalem and Cairo, with Sadat coming to Jerusalem to sign the Hebrew version of the treaty, Begin going to Cairo to sign the Arabic version and President Carter going to Cairo and Jerusalem to sign the English version. "We will not go to Mt. Sinai to sign the peace treaty," Begin declared, referring to the suggestion made-by Sadat.


Begin devoted most of his speech to the turn of events in the last two weeks, explaining why Israel refused to sign a "sham" peace document which gave Egypt’s defense agreements with other Arab countries priority over the peace treaty with Israel in an event of war between Israel and one of its neighbors. The Israeli Premier claimed that had Israel signed such a document it could have given Egypt legitimate grounds to break the peace treaty. "We couldn’t, we shouldn’t, we wouldn’t, we didn’t agree to sign such a document, "Begin said.

Declaring that "Israel will never be the first to attack any of its neighbors, "Begin warned, however, that whenever Israel will be attacked it will defend itself by a counter-attack. He noted that during the Yom Kippur War, Israel come close to 40 kilometers from Damascus. "Should we be attacked now, we will counter attack and maybe we will be only 10 kilometers from Damascus."

Begin stressed that Israel is not seeking a separate peace treaty with Egypt and would rather have a comprehensive Mideast settlement. But he said "nobody can force" Syria and the other Arabs to sit and negotiate with Israel.

Warning that "liberty is in danger" around the entire world and that Soviet influence has gained new ground in the last two years, Begin said he made several suggestions during his talks with Carter concerning "regional issues." The free world and the U.S. has one reliable ally in the Mideast and "its name is Israel, "Begin declared, adding that strengthening Israel "is an American interest."

Today’s gathering was sponsored by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Theodore Mann, chairman of the Conference, in a brief statement before Begin’s address, said that Begin and the people of Israel will have the united support of American Jewry.

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