Israel Government Not Hampering Private Investments, Minister Tells Zionist Congress
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Israel Government Not Hampering Private Investments, Minister Tells Zionist Congress

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Israel’s Finance Minister Eliezer Kaplan, in a fighting speech winding up the general debate in the 23rd World Zionist Congress last night, vigorously denied that the Israel Government was impeding the flow of private investment capital into Israel and strongly defended the Israeli austerity regime.

Replying to critics of the government’s “tzena” (austerity) program, the Finance Minister said that “we had the choice of providing minimal needs for every resident or of permitting those with means to get all they could and let the others shift for themselves. We will never agree to the latter alternative.”

Mr. Kaplan warned delegates to the Congress that the people of Israel are fatigued by the great burdens they have had to carry and by their consciousness of the fact that “the very soil is burning under our feet.” He called on the Congress and every delegate to be fired by this “sacred restiveness” and called on Zionists abroad and Israelis to work hand-in-hand. “I do not appeal to you for money alone,” he exclaimed. “I am calling on your to be the carriers of this great restiveness and to serve as examples to Jewry.”


Replying to critics of the immigration policy, Mr. Kaplan maintained that the Jewish state admits all Jews except war criminals. He also insisted that the high rate of taxation is intended to make the state increasingly independent. He reported that the rate of immigration to Israel, which I subsidized, depends upon the availability of funds.

The Finance Minister reported that Israel spends 20 per cent of its revenue on the reception of immigrants and upon colonization activities. The government has assigned 140,000,000 pounds for these purposes he said. For 30,000,000 pounds has been expended to provide employment for the immigrants and 40,000,000 pounds allocated for their housing, including tents for which money is frequently lacking. He concluded the presentation by comparing the expenditures of the Israel Government for these purposes with the funds received from abroad.

Since August, 1948, he continued, the national security budget has been covered completely by the government’s own revenue, although the mobilization of manpower ant means for this purpose exceed, percentage wise, those of any single Western country, including the United States.

Josef Sprinzak, Speaker of the Israeli Parliament, appealed to American Jewry to launch and immediate program designed to send pioneering elements to Israel. He also appealed to the delegates to submerge their differences in an all-out effort to capture the Jewish people, capture the heart of our youth.” Mr. Sprinzak lauded the activities of the youth immigration program of Hadassah, and called upon all American Zionist groups to match this record with youth immigration programs of their own.

Dr. Harris J. Levine, president of the Jewish National Fund of American, called for the continued existence of “an independent and autonomous J.N.F.” He asserted that the J.N.F. is a source of revenue and an instrument for Zionist education.

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