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Johnson, Eshkol Pledge “shalom” to Each Other As Premier Arrives for Texas Talks

January 8, 1968
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

President Johnson and Israel’s Prime Minister Levi Eshkol mutually pledged “Shalom,” peace, to each other’s countries and to the rest of the world, as Mr. Eshkol arrived here today for 22 hours of private conversations with the American leader at the latter’s ranch, near here.

As many hundreds of persons–Jews and non-Jews–cheered loudly as they shivered in the subzero, windy weather, following Mr. Eshkol’s arrival in a special presidential plane from New York, President Johnson averred “this is a cold day, but a warm greetings.” He thanked the Texans for turning out en masse for the welcoming ceremonies.

Among the greeters were children representing the nearby San Antonio Jewish community, carrying welcoming banners in Hebrew and waving small flags embellished with the Star of David. A military guard of honor presented arms as an U.S. Air Force band played military airs. The President and Mr. Eshkol left immediately for the president’s LBJ Ranch in Mr. Johnson’s private, Star jet plane.

The Texas White House announced that, among the U.S. officials participating in the Johnson-Eshkol talks at the ranch are Secretary of State Dean Rusk; Lucius Battle, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs; and Walt W. Rostow, the President’s chief adviser on international affairs.

In greeting the visitor, President Johnson said that peace would be the main objective of the “hopeful days” of discussion between himself and the Israeli leader.

“Shalom,” said President Johnson. “The traditional greeting of Israel has special meaning for us all today. We meet in peace. We will talk of peace. We will try to extend the peace that is in our hearts to all men willing to share our partnership of good faith and good purpose. We will be together for only two short days. But they will be long with the friendship our nations share and full with the warmth of our happiness that you are here. Above all, they will be hopeful days. This Texas land was born in that spirit–of promise, opportunity and of neighbors working hand in hand for the common good.”

The President added, “welcome to this land, Mr. Prime Minister. I hope its spirit refreshes you after your long journey. I know its hospitality will lift your heart and help you to find that peace which all Americans are proud to seek with you.”

Responding, Mr. Eshkol told the President that, since he had first met him in 1964, he had enjoyed the “fond memories” of the President’s hospitality. His “central concern” he said, was peace not only for the Middle East area “but for the entire world.” He emphasized that the dream of peace had been sought by Israel since ancient days, and asserted he hoped that peace would be achieved. He said he knew “how much the United States was doing to aid the quest for peace.”


The Prime Minister was greeted at an impressive ceremony at the military airfield. Among those, in addition to President Johnson and White House officials who were present, were Mayor W.W. MacAllister of San Antonio, U.S. Congressmen Henry Gonzales and Abraham Kazen, both Texas Democrats, Gen. Frank Madsen, commanding officer of Randolph Field; Mrs. Harold Vexler, president of the Jewish Social Service Federation who represented the Texas Jewish community; and a number of other public officials. A pretty young girl, Anita Rachman, presented Mr. and Mrs. Eshkol with a corsage of flowers as they stepped from the plane.

Mr. and Mrs. Eshkol presented gifts of special interest to President and Mrs. Johnson reflecting ancient and modern Israel. To the President the Eshkols presented a case made of Polisander wood, containing velvet-lined drawers in which there was a collection of Israeli coins dating back from the Maccabean period through modern times. The President also was given a 17th Century volume of Itineraries to the Holy Land, compiled by a European pilgrim, Fuller, replete with maps and illuminations.

Mrs. Johnson was presented with a set of ancient cosmetic vessels and ornaments, consisting of three flasks for ointment and perfume, dating about 200 BCE; three gold rings, a bead necklace, a cosmetic scraper for the removal of oil and ointments, dating from 200 BCE to the 1st Century of the Christian Era; and a modern hand-wrought set of silver jewelry, consisting of a necklace, bracelet and earrings of original Israeli design and craftsmanship made of sea-glass pebbles set in silver.

Mr. and Mrs. Eshkol brought for Mr. and Mrs. Charles Robb, the President’s new son-in-law and daughter, a pair of hand-wrought silver candlesticks, Israeli designed, set in a black leather box lined with white velvet. The President’s grandson, Patrick Lyndon Nugent, received a gift of a Noah’s Ark and animals, hand carved by an Israeli craftsman.


Yesterday, Mr. Eshkol attended Sabbath services at New York’s prestigious Fifth Avenue Synagogue, Orthodox, conducted by Rabbi Emanuel Rackman. There, he was honored by being called to the Torah.

Friday, the Israeli leader was tendered a kosher luncheon at United Nations Headquarters in New York by Secretary-General Thant, after a 45-minute conference with Mr. Thant. Following the luncheon, he told newsmen that it was on his suggestion that Egypt was planning to release the 15 foreign ships marooned in the Great Bitter Lake area of the Suez Canal. He voiced hopes that a solution to the problem would be worked out, adding “maybe this will be a beginning of something.”

It was disclosed at the U.N. that Mr. Eshkol had invited Mr. Thant to visit Israel, and that the Secretary-General had accepted the invitation “in principle.”

Mr. Eshkol said following the meeting with Mr. Thant: “It is my hope, and that of all the people of Israel, that the present diplomatic talks now in progress, following the Security Council resolution looking forward to a more peaceful region, will indeed lead to direct negotiations between the parties with the direct objective of bringing lasting peace and security to all the peoples of the Middle East. Surely, after 20 years of hostility, the time has come for all the countries of the region to live within secure and recognized borders, freed from the threat of war.

“The principles of international peace and cooperation set forth in the U.N. Charter echo the inspired teachings of the prophets of Israel. The State of Israel is pledged to strive for the attainment of these ideals in our own lifetime in order, as the Charter puts it, ‘to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war’. It is our abiding hope that peace will come to our area, and that all the countries of the Middle East can work together for the economic and social development of the region as a whole, in peaceful cooperation.”

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