WASHINGTON (Dec. 3)
The Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds, at the opening session of its annual General Assembly here this week-end made it clear that the blue-print for a community-sponsored national campaign organization–against which some American Zionist leaders have expressed opposition–will not be voted upon at the current Assembly, which is being attended by more than 700 Jewish community leaders from all parts of the country.
The delegates were also told that the Council’s proposal for the creation of a Central Israel Fund which would unify all fund-raising campaigns for Israel–including the Hadassah, Histadrut, and Hebrew University drives–will not be implemented unless the Jewish Agency and the Zionist groups in the United States agree. At present they oppose it.
This announcement was made by Julian Freeman, chairman of the Council’s Committee on Stable and Unified National Fund-raising. Reporting to the Assembly on the decisions of the Council, Mr. Freeman said that the recent announcement of a four-point program to aid Israel by raising one billion dollars in three years through philanthropy, bonds, private investment and government loans, called for clarification of a number of basic points. Although the primary task of local central Jewish community organizations is the raising of maximum philanthropic funds for Israel and other valid causes, the relationship between any bond drive and local welfare fund campaigns must be clearly delineated, he declared.
“If the four-point program is to succeed,” he asserted, “each part of it must add to the others and not succeed at the expense of the others. We cannot have investment dollars or bond dollars instead of philanthropic dollars. To succeed we must have all of them,” he stated.
CENTRAL ISRAEL FUND ISSUE PLACED BEFORE JEWISH AGENCY
Mr. Freeman informed the delegates that the proposal for the creation of a Central Israel Fund to embrace all of the fund-raising for Israel has been put before the Jewish Agency. “The proposal for the Central Israel Fund, which would unify all campaigns for Israel in a single drive,” had been advanced by the Council, Mr. Freeman said, because “such an instrument would represent a mobilization of manpower and concentration of forces” which would have “a powerful impact on the whole Jewish community and give fund-raising for Israel a tremendous lift.”
The Jewish Agency and Zionist groups had registered opposition to the fund, he continued, on the grounds that unification of all campaigns for Israel would result in less funds for Israel than are now being raised. “No Central Israel Fund–either partial or complete–can be established unless the Jewish Agency and the Zionist organizations agree,” Mr. Freeman declared. “They do not now so agree.”
Concerning the blueprint for a community-sponsored national campaign organization, Mr. Freeman pointed out that as a result of repeated crises in the United Jewish Appeal in 1941, 1945, and 1948, the communities, through the General Assembly, had decided that it was necessary to have such a plan in readiness if an emergency should arise in the future. “the blueprint was not drawn up in anticipation of a U.J.A. crisis in 1951,” he asserted. “It is not intended to displace the U.J.A. It is not intended as a competition to the U.J.A.”
Mr. Freeman also said that the plan was not being put forward for implementation at the current Assembly. The C.J.F.W.F. desired to get the comments and ideas of the delegates concerning the blueprint itself. It would be discussed and explored with major national and overseas agencies.
Mr. Freeman reported the terms of the agreement reached between the J.D.C. and the U.P.A. for the renewal of the U.J.A. for 1951. The terms, he said, provide: After deduction of administrative expense and grants to the United Service for New Americans, on the first $55,000,000, thereafter, 33 percent goes to the J.D.C. and 67 percent to U.P.A. Of all funds in excess of the $55,000,000, 121/2 percent will go to the J.D.C. and 871/2 percent to U.P.A. The Jewish Agency has taken over the responsibility for financing transportation to Israel, and the J.D.C. has taken over complete responsibility for financing the Malben program in Israel.
Mr. Freeman called on the assembled leaders to give their maximum support to the U.J.A. “Strong welfare funds and a strong U.J.A. working together in a spirit of mutual understanding and cooperation are necessary conditions which must be established for our part of the overseas job in 1951,” he stated.
ASSERTS ECONOMIC SITUATION IN ISRAEL HURTS MORALE OF PEOPLE
Harold Glasser, director of the Council’s Institute on Overseas Studies, addressing the General Assembly, urged American Jewry to do its utmost to alleviate Israel’s “severe economic crisis.” He also urged the creation of a Central Israel budget to apportion funds on the basis of “priority and urgency.”
Mr. Glasser, who recently returned from a six-month study of economic conditions in Israel, said that Israel’s present economic crisis has slowly been gathering weight and has daily been putting increased pressure upon the people living in the country. “The most serious aspect is the slumping morale of the people. They have had 18 months of self-imposed austerity, shortages, inadequate supplies.”
Although Israel has the “full potentiality of being a modern nation with a decent standard of living and a high culture,” Mr. Glasser said, at present the country has “limited resources which are inadequate to its needs,” and that the American Jewish community has not been supplying “adequate funds” for the tasks of absorption and economic upbuilding. In the light of these facts, he added, efforts must be made to increase productivity, the amount of financial resources, and heighten the effectiveness of available resources.
“There has been insufficient attention on the part of organizations, there has been insufficient study of the ways and means in which programs can be coordinated so that the sum total of the American effort to assist Israel will be made effective,” Mr. Glasser declared.
“It seems obvious that there must be some increase in the effectiveness with which funds are expended if there were some central point at which programs were discussed, were coordinated; where some planning of changes and improvements were attempted. It would be even more effective, if, at this central planning point, whether it be in Israel or in the U.S., some recommendations were made as to the relative importance and relative priorities of the various organizations in obtaining funds in the U.S. for programs in Israel,” he pointed out.
Later, Dr. Nahum Goldmann, chairman of the American section of the Jewish Agency, speaking at the Assembly, expressed disagreement with Mr. Glasser’s observations that funds in Israel are being expended with insufficient effectiveness. The Israel Government, he said, will accept opinion of American Jewish experts, but will never allow American Jews to interfere with internal affairs of the Jewish state, he asserted.
JEWISH AGENCY OUTLINES ATTITUDE TOWARD CENTRAL ISRAEL FUND
The attitude of the Jewish Agency with regard to the proposals advanced by the Council concerning coordination of fund-raising for Israel and transmission of welfare fund allocations directly to Israel was outlined in a written statement submitted by the Agency for the information of the 700 Jewish community leaders attending the Assembly. The statement, signed by Dr. Nahum Goldmann, chairman of the American section of the Agency, made it clear that the transmission of welfare fund allocations directly to Israel “is inadvisable for legal and technical reasons and also because of various financial obligations undertaken by the Agency, the U.P.A. and the Zionist funds in the United States and in other countries which are based on the income of these agencies here in the United States.”
The statement emphasized that not only is the agency aware of the necessity to reduce the expenditures of various Zionist funds in this country, but steps had been taken to make sharp reductions even prior to the meeting with the Council. “Obviously, the pressure of inadequate funds for our programs in Israel provides the greatest incentive for us to carry out our operations in the most economical manner possible,” the statement said. “Radical changes can be undertaken only by the World Zionist Congress, but the Jewish Agency is continuing to make efforts to reduce the local expenditures as far as possible.”
Reiterating the opposition of the Jewish Agency to the proposal for the creation of a Central Israel Fund and Budget, the statement pointed out that approximately 75 percent of the funds collected by the Hadassah and the Histadrut in the United States are raised outside of the welfare funds. With regard to other independent Israel campaigns in this country, the Agency has created a special committee which checks multiple fund-raising drives and which is cooperating closely with the C.J.F.W.F. “We will try to increase the authority and the control exercised by this committee on all indepent Israel campaigns,” the statement pledged.