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Ben Aharon Urges Establishment of a United State of the Middle East

November 6, 1973
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Yitzhak Ben Aharon, secretary general of Histadrut, called for the establishment of a “United States of the Middle East” in which Israel would play a “leading moral role.” The leader of Israel’s powerful trade union movement told the 1500 delegates attending the golden jubilee convention of the National Committee for Labor Israel this weekend that the Jewish State is “fighting in order to have men and women who can live a creative, dignified life, and we fight for the right of the Jewish people to ingather in their homeland and live as an independent nation.”

Dr. Judah J. Shapiro, chairman of the Labor Zionist Alliance, was elected president of the NCLI at the conclusion of the organization’s three-day convention yesterday. The convention adopted a goal of $6 million for the Israel Histadrut Foundation and a $5 million goal for the Israel Histadrut Campaign.

Israel’s President Ephraim Katzir, in a message to the convention, praised the 50 years of “aid to Israel’s labor movement and institutions,” and stated that “never in that half century of struggle and recurrent crisis has there been a more far-reaching challenge to Israel’s very life, necessitating even more than before the strengthening of our social fabric and productive capacity … as we strive for a peaceful settlement to guarantee Israel’s future and bring at last a new forward-looking spirit to the Middle East.”


Ben Aharon, noting the series of diplomatic breaks between African countries and Israel, told of the action of many graduates of Histadrut’s Afro-Asian Institute in Tel Aviv. “These graduates do not share the views of their governments vis-a-vis Israel. We have received letters of support from many of them, smuggled out of their countries to us.”

As to the Arabs inside Israel, and those in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and on the Golan Heights, “there has not been a single case of sabotage,” he stated. Israel’s labor movement will not “surrender our social ideals” because that would constitute surrender to the Arab countries around us, it would be the greatest Arab victory.” In the view of Ben Aharon, Israel faces a three-fold enemy: Soviet imperialism, Arab oil and “the cowardice of other countries who follow narrow nationalist interests, as in the days of Munich.”

Dr. Shapiro told the delegates that “ultimate peace is not yet in sight. It will be a long time before a durable peace can be forged. The first prerequisite is a basic change in the Arab mentality that will enable them to accept the reality of Israel as a good neighbor in the region, whose existence is legitimate and whose security is inviolate.” On the American scene, Dr. Shapiro, editor of the Labor Zionist monthly, “Jewish Frontier,” stated, “The time has come for us to give top priority and attention to Jewish youth, which has had so much surface satisfaction and material conveniences.”

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