Advance commitments for bond purchases of $35,000,000 in honor of Israel Premier David Ben Gurion were announced tonight in a roll call of the states at the Madison Square Garden rally which officially launched the Israel Independence Bond sales campaign in this city.
Twenty thousand people jammed the Garden which began filling as soon as its doors were opened a half-hour before the meeting. Police made preparations to handle an overflow crowd of thousands more outside Madison Square Garden.
Premier Ben Gurion, the main speaker tonight, made a strong appeal for support of the bond drive declaring that the political and military independence of Israel for which much has been sacrificed over a period of many years will be a “mere shell” if it is not set on the firm foundation of a sound economic situation.
He emphasized that he came to this country to give expression to the ties of friendship which bind Israel to the United States. “We shall never forget the long and unbroken support which the Zionist idea enjoyed in this country, and we shall always remember that it was America which was the first to recognize our status as a free and independent nation,” he said.
Reviewing Israel’s achievements during the three years of its existence, Mr. Ben Gurion said: “We never regarded independence as an end in itself. The Jewish people at all times rejected the idea that statehood in and for itself was the purpose of its strivings. We always maintained that State independence was merely an instrument for the achievement of Jewish immigration and settlement in Israel. We have used our independence to attain this purpose. We have not yet attained it. Our work in Israel is still incomplete. It will not be accomplished until we have created in Israel the economic conditions which assure the stability and independence of our country, and until we have absorbed into our midst those many hundreds of thousands of Jews who look to us for deliverance.”
ISRAEL SEEKS NO TERRITORIAL EXPANSION, PREMIER DECLARES
Touching upon the political situation, the Israeli Premier said: “We do not week self-aggrandizement in territorial expansion, we do not yearn for the satisfaction that comes with the possession of the external trappings of state sovereignty. We seek a home and dignity for the Jewish people, an opportunity for them to renew their ancient traditions and express their cultural strivings. We want them to have the chance to work and earn their own bread. That is the character of our people; that is the purpose of its ambition. I believe that with this moral equipment we shall accomplish
The funds realized from the Israel bonds, the Prime Minister described as many which can be repaid with interest, because it is money which is going to be used to create economic assets, instruments of production which will earn dollars and save dollars. “This is money which will place the tools in the hands of our people and enable them to complete the transformation of the face of Israel’s land,” he said.
Israel’s Finance Minister Eliezer Kaplan, addressing the audience, emphasized that Israel is now at the turning point of its economic development. “The substantial growth of our economy proves that we have already reached the threshold of economic independence,” he said. “We need the $500,000,000 Bond Issue to increase production for home consumption as well as for export. By increasing production we can also reduce our imports. Thus, by a rise in exports and a reduction in imports, we will be in a position to improve our balance of trade. Remember, we have never defaulted on any debt.”
Mayor Impellitteri, addressing the gathering, said: “This is not the first time a foreign movement has come to America for funds with which to strengthen its economy, but it is the first time that any nation has approached us for investments with which to finance the rehabilitation of 600,000 newcomers in a country which has pledged itself to create a better world for them. The State of Israel Bond Issue is designed to ensure the speedy completion of this great program.”
The importance of the Israeli bond issue to the economic future of the Jewish state was also explained by Israeli Ambassador Eban, Henry Morgenthau, Jr., Rudolf G. Sonneborn and Benjamin Abrams, chairman of the Greater New York Committee for the Israeli Bond Issue. Henry Montor, vice-president of the American Financial and Development Corporation for Israel, which is directing the sale of Israeli bonds in the United States, conducted the 48-state roll call which reported the $35,000,000 in advance commitments.
Earlier in the day, Mr. Ben Gurion made his first visit to the United States Military Academy at West Point where he laid a wreath on the grave of Col. David “Mickey” Marcus, West Point graduate and veteran of World War II, who was killed on June 10, 1948, defending the independence of Israel.
The Israeli Premier was welcomed to the Military Academy by its superintendent Maj. Gen. Frederick A. Irving, whose guest he was later at luncheon. A color guard stood at attention as Mr. Ben Gurion laid a floral reproduction of the Blue-White Star of David on Col. Marcus’ grave. He later presented a medal, the Order of Independence, awarded posthumously to Col. Marcus, to Mrs. Marcus.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.