Abba Eban

The Burdens of Israel: Prerecorded Video Appeal for Assistance to the Jewish Diaspora in the United States

delivered circa 1969,  the Western Wall, Jerusalem, Israel


[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below transcribed directly from audio]

I've come here to speak to the Jewish communities of the United States. And to do that I've come here, to the cradle of our nation, to the place where our people and it's faith were born, the place where all the mystery and the tragedy and the glory of the Jewish story come together. We have come back to the birthplace of our people forever. We have come here to stay.

Now, there are other places where we shall have to stay but none with a deeper significance than this. We are no longer cut off from the shrines of our people and no longer do Jordanian guns threaten us from this place.

Nobody knows what the final peace map of Israel will be, but there will not be any peace or any peace map unless we can stand firm -- until there is peace in which we can negotiate the conditions of our coexistence with our neighbors.

When I say that we shall stay here and we shall stay in other places, I am saying a very grave thing. We know what the price is and what the price will be. Our sons and daughters are falling at the front. Our children in the Jordan Valley sleep every night in air-raid shelters. A heavy struggle lies before us against very strong adversaries in the international arena, a burden of taxation and of economic restraints faces us this year.

What nation is there anywhere in the world which has such burdens and which faces such dangers?

Our adversary's hope that these burdens will crush us, and I tell you that they well may be right. Whether our burdens crush us or not depends not on Nasser, not on the Soviet Union, not even on our friends in the international community. The question depends upon you. It is you who will be decisive and central in answering that question whether our burdens will defeat us or whether we shall rise above them.

Now, think of what those burdens are: the burdens of security; the heavy load on our economy; our responsibilities in the administered territories; the landmine and the bomb which are thrown against us in cafeterias and in supermarkets; the hope of our foes to isolate us from world opinion. These are our burdens. All of them fundamentally come back to the question whether we shall have the resources with which to meet them.

Some of our burdens are glorious indeed. In the next four or five years, more than one quarter of a million Jewish immigrants will come to our shores. This is not a burden; this is a grace. But in the first instance this is a heavy load upon our economy.

Therefore, the central question that everybody in Israel asks is what you are going to do?

If you will help us to bear these burdens, and especially the economic burden, then we shall stand firm; then the ceasefire lines will be maintained; then we shall triumph in our international struggle; then we shall absorb and integrate our immigrants; then we shall build our society to be a glory for all Jewish history.

If you were to fail us, who knows what catastrophes would not fall upon us. But then that which our enemies were not able to do in June 1967 they would perform.

I tell you that our burdens are too heavy for us to bear alone. If you will rise to the levels and above the levels of 1967 in the practical affirmation of your solidarity, then Israel will know security and there will break forth from this place that radiant and indescribable vision of peace which mankind first saw from these holy stones of Jerusalem.

This is our danger.

This is our opportunity.

I call upon you in the name of every Israeli to help us surmount those dangers and to rise to the level of our opportunity.

Original Audio Source:

Original Image (Enhanced Screenshot) Source:

Audio Note: AR-XE = American Rhetoric Extreme Enhancement

Video Source Note: The Steven Spielberg Jewish Film Archive - "War of Attrition" from the "State of Israel: Israel's Birth" series and published on YouTube by Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Page Created: 9/18/23

U.S. Copyright Status: Text, Audio, Image = Fair Use.

Top 100 American Speeches

Online Speech Bank

Movie Speeches

Copyright 2001-Present. 
American Rhetoric.
HTML transcription by Michael E. Eidenmuller.