NEW YORK (Nov. 8)
Problems of Jewish needs in North Africa, once considered insoluble, are now assuming manageable proportions, Moses A. Leavitt, executive vice-chairman of the Joint Distribution Committee, told a press conference here today following his return from an inspection tour in that area.
Mr. Leavitt, who also visited Israel, said that the J.D.C. has made marked advances in meeting another “insoluble” problem–that of the “hard core” immigrants in Israel. “Faced with a great many economic, political and other difficulties the leaders of the Israeli Government could do but little for the thousands of aged, ill and handicapped newcomers who poured into the Jewish State from DP Europe, Rumania, Yemen, Iraq and other areas,” Mr. Leavitt stated. “The need to care for this ‘hard core’ group led to the establishment of Malben, today wholly staffed and financed by J.D.C., with funds provided by the United Jewish Appeal.”
Since its inception in October 1949, more than 11,000 newcomers have been aided in a network of 73 Malben old-age homes, sanitaria, custodial care centers, hospitals, “sheltered workshops,” clinics and other installations in Israel, Mr. Leavitt reported. These included many thousands from all areas who were formerly barred from immigration into most countries of the world because of the special care which they required. The J.D.C. leader predicted that during 1952 between 10,000 and 12,000 men, women and children would receive Malben’s aid.
With regard to North Africa, Mr. Leavitt cited a number of important developments which he called not a solution, but the beginning of a solution” to the needs of Jews in that part of the world. Among these were:
1. The J.D.C. feeding program in Morocco, which provided some 4,000,000 hot nourishing meals during the first ten months of 1951 to 16,000 Jewish boys and girls in a network of 80 canteens.
2. A medical program in the same country which gave some 2,800,000 medical treatments in 15 J.D.C.-financed OSE health centers.
3. The recent establishment in Gabes, in Southern Tunisia, of the first tuberculosis control program in the history of the Tunisian Jewish community.
4. The establishment in Tripoli of a combined hospital-school and feeding center known as the Pietro Verri School, for nearly 1,000 children suffering from tuberculosis, trachoma and tinea.
5. The reduction of the mortality rate among Jewish babies under the age of three in Libya by 92 percent during the past year, through a combined feeding, medical and hygienic program. This program included the establishment of a J.D.C. “baby center” in the heart of Tripoli’s ghetto district.
6. The enrollment of more than 28,000 boys and girls in 74 J.D.C.-financed Alliance Israelite schools in North Africa, as well as 1,000 youngsters in J.D.C.-aided ORT vocational training centers.