SEPTEMBER 14, 1948
HYDE PARK, Monday—I was talking with a group of young people a few days ago who had been brought over here to speak for the United Jewish Appeal. They are boys and girls who are members of the Israeli army and who have taken part in nearly all the fighting of recent years, some of them beginning in the underground as early as the age of 12. They look mature, but they are very young. None is over 23 years of age.
One could not help being moved as they told of their experience, for it was clearly evident that they fought with conviction for a cause.
They mentioned over and over again how inadequate was their equipment, how small their numbers, how often a situation would seem practically impossible for them to meet. But over and over again they accomplished what seemed the impossible.
As I listened I wondered if that had been the way some of the young men around General George Washington had felt as they faced the British Army without shoes, in the dead of winter, with scant food and very scant equipment. If General Lafayette had not been able to persuade the French Goverment to aid the 13 colonies, the face of history might have been changed.
I imagine many of Washington's aides held much the same kind of conviction about freedom and the cause of their small nation as these youngsters hold. They look upon Palestine as a holy country that is dedicated to save the Jewish people who have been persecuted and are now in concentration camps in some of the countries of Europe and on the Island of Cyprus.
I asked a question which these young people must often have had in mind:
"How do you think it is possible that in the desert land south of Palestine, known as the Negal, you can possibly support hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees?"
Without the slightest hesitation they answered:
"It is a desert now, but where there are settlement it blooms. It can bloom everywhere."
They gave me the feeling that no kind of work would seem too arduous to them if the fulfillment of their dreams were in sight.
It made me almost want to talk to some of the young Arab soldiers, chosen at random from the ranks, and to find out whether a different dream was alive in their hearts and shone from their eyes or whether they more nearly approximated the young Hessians of our own Revolutionary War, who fought for the sake of fighting and the pecuniary returns.