APRIL 4, 1959
LONDON—When we were in Tel Aviv I had the good fortune to hear the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra in a delightful program in the new concert auditorium that was built since I was last there. This building was the gift of an American, Frederic C. Mann, in cooperation with the Municipality of Tel Aviv, and I think the city can be justly proud of the good acoustics and the delightful atmosphere. We sat in the first row of the gallery, where we could watch the pianist, who was Yehudi Monuhin's sister, and we saw every movement of her fingers. Also, we had the pleasure of meeting her after the performance.
One day we took a plane down to Eilat, which is the very last spot on Israeli soil to the south and on the Red Sea. I must say that the surrounding area looked fairly unpromising until we came across a little cluster of houses and some nearby green fields. Eilat, itself, gets its water supply from wells, which, I was told, are adequate for its present population of about 8,000
Eilat is beginning to develop industry-wise. There is diamond-cutting business and also a stone-cutting business that uses the semiprecious stones found in the hills. These stones are cut and polished and set in silver for necklaces, cuff links, brooches, etc., and also are broken into tiny pieces and used in mosaic work.
There is a kibbutz near the town that is composed primarily of fishermen. It must be a trifle difficult at times to remember just where the border runs, but these fishermen must not cross it and they must see that their boats are well fastened at night. If a boat gets loose and floats across the border, the owner has lost his livelihood.
We drove over a good road about seven miles out of Eilat to another kibbutz, in which 80 young people between the ages of 20 and 22 are making the desert bloom. I literally mean bloom, because two of their crops are irises and gladioluses, which are shipped by air to many distant points. Their main crops, however, are tomatoes and onions and other vegetables, and they also grow fodder for a considerable herd of cattle—some beef cattle, some cows for milk. There also are some sheep and there is a big poultry farm.
It was astonishing to look from the top of a high hill at the fields below us. They were green as could be, all irrigated with water from the deep well that not only serves this particular kibbutz but is part of the Eilat water supply.
There are 20 girls and 60 boys in this kibbutz, and it is a rough, tough existence. Two of the boys told me they were graduates of the Youth Aliyah camps. All of them, of course, have served their time in the army and, while serving, have received training in agriculture. So, they are well prepared for the difficult life that they have undertaken.
In spite of the hard work, however, they have a good football team and a good basketball team, and they gather for singing and dancing quite frequently.
The spirit and determination of these young people is best illustrated by this little story. Not long ago locusts struck Eilat, and when the news was dispatched to the kibbutz the boys and girls immediately raced to their fields to spray as much as they could and then literally with flails skilled to many of the insects that their crops were not destroyed.