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>Israel Faxx
>JN April 29, 1998, Vol. 6, No. 80

Jubilee Bells Ring Discordant Note

By Arutz-7 News Service

"Jubilee Bells," billed as the main event of Israel's Independence Day celebrations, has already drawn criticism -- even before its staging Thursday night. According to spectators who viewed the general rehearsal said one of its productions -- performed by a dance group dressed as Hasidim who gradually remove their garb -- is even insulting to the religious community.

Message from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

This year we celebrate the State of Israel's 50th birthday, a landmark in our history. I believe we can be proud of our accomplishments in this half century... There are few sacrifices and concessions Israel is unwilling to make to achieve peace with all its neighbors. But a fundamental requirement must be satisfied: security...

The bond between Israel and the Diaspora is vital to our survival. It is what gives the Jewish people strength in the present and confidence in the future. Not every goal has been attained, not every challenge has been met. As we mark 100 years of modern Zionism and enter Israel's 50th year we must not lose sight of the purpose of Zionism: the ingathering of the Jewish people in the Jewish state.

With Israel's economy developing at an extraordinary pace and with its standard of living approaching that of the most advanced nations, there is every reason for Jews everywhere to consider Aliyah. I am certain that a majority of the Jewish people will be living in Israel by the time we celebrate the State's 60th anniversary...

We are one people, united forever by faith, history and a shared destiny. With best wishes for Hag Sameach from Jerusalem, Israel's eternal capital.

An Israeli's Average Income Nears U.S. Levels

By Zlatica Hoke (VOA-Washington)

Israel approaches its 50th birthday Thursday as a prosperous country whose citizens have an average income of about $17,000 per capita -- more than their neighbors in other Mediterranean countries and not much less than average Americans.

But, in spite of that prosperity, the tiny Middle East country is still by far the largest beneficiary of U.S. foreign aid. Some Americans and Israelis question why the nation still receives so much U.S. foreign aid when there are so many other countries that need it more.

According to the official figures, last year Israel received $1.2 billion in us economic aid and $1.8 billion in military aid. Some American activist groups, such as the Council for the National Interest based in Washington, claim that the real figure was much higher.

Eugene Bird, president and executive director of the council, says careful study of congressional and other documents shows that last year Israel received almost twice as much money from the U.S.government than the official $3 billion amount.

In view of the growing prosperity of Israel, which has surpassed other Mediterranean countries like Greece, Portugal and Spain, the Israeli government has proposed a phaseout of all economic aid to Israel over a period of 10-12 years in exchange for an increase in military assistance over the same period. The economic aid would go down to zero, while the military aid would increase from the present $1.8 billion to $2.4 billion. In addition to that, Israel also wants to spend more of its military aid at home.

While some Americans object to sending more military aid into an unsettled Middle East where Israel already is a military super-power, Israeli lobbies and other groups argue that Israel still needs military assistance from the United States because of its size and its geostrategic position. Jason Isaacson is the director of government and international affairs for the American Jewish Committee.

"Israel today is militarily powerful. Israel today is the single leading power militarily in that region. But Israel is a tiny country surrounded by countries that are not at peace with it.

"Israel has immediate neighbors and it has distant threats all of which when arraigned against Israeli forces pose enormous threats to Israel's security. So, it needs advantage that a high-tech weaponry developed in very close relationship with the United States gives it .Without that. It is vastly outnumbered."

Isaacson expresses the view of many other groups in the United States who say it is in the U.S. interest to support Israel.

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