Menu JTA Search

U.N. Mission Lauds Israel; Studied Community Welfare Problems

Jewish welfare activities. In Israel are praised highly in a reportissued here today by the United Nations and prepared by a Survey Mission on community organization and development which visited Israel in 1953 at the request of the Technical Assistance Administration.

“In the evolution of community welfare organization, Israel stands in a category of its own,” the report says. It points out that the general economic and social policies of the State of Israel are “based on age-old principles of Jewish communal law and customs originally set forth in detail in the Talmud.”

“The Mission, when visiting Israel, had the impression of having come into a country, where communal feeling, cleanliness, care of the poor and the sick, attention to public health are natural and based upon Western standards.” the report states. “This is easy to understand, as half of the Jewish inhabitants were, before they chose Israel as their new home, accustomed to the Western way of life. The half million immigrants of the last few years included very many from Oriental countries whose standards of living were much lower. The State considered its task to be the education of these newcomers as quickly as possible in such a way that they conform with the Israeli standards.

“From the visits of the Mission to village settlements and to towns, from talks with the responsible authorities, it became clear that this heavy task of the State is being performed in a resolute and successful way, i.e., because many prominent citizens–urban and rural–are doing their best to educate the new inhabitants to look after their interests and to incorporate them in the social structure of the country,” the report emphasizes.

ARABS AND JEWS ENJOY SAME PUBLIC SERVICES IN ISRAEL

The Mission stresses the fact that it was informed that the Arabs in Israel enjoy the same public services as the rest of the population. It pointed out that very many multi-purpose community centers exist in Israel under various names and that they cover nearly the whole rural population in whatever state of development.

“Of course, there are still shortcomings, but in a young state like Israel, this is only natural, “the Mission says in its report. It adds that “it would be of great advantage to the peoples of the Middle East – which have much in common if it were possible for them to exchange their experiences in the promotion of rural community centres.” this would be of greater advantage to them than looking for guidance from organizations in Western Europe or from the United States, the report states.

NEW IMMIGRANTS DO NOT WANT TO SETTLE IN KIBBUTZIM, MISSION SAYS

The report of the Survey Mission pays great attention to the experience of Israel’s collective settlements–known as kibbutzim. It points out that during its 45 years of growth, the kibbutz movement has managed to adjust itself to the changes which three ware, riots, economic crises, statehood and mass immigration brought in their wake.

“During all the difficult years the kibbutz expanded constantly in terms of area, membership and production,” the report says. “It now serves a population of over 68,000 and occupies an area of 1,500,000 dunam. Its social framework has enabled settlers to brave hardships of nature, disease–especially malaria–attacks by marauders from across the borders, etc.”

On the other hand, the expansion of the kibbutz movement has not kept pace with the rate of immigration in recent years, the report establishes. “Whereas in the years 1948 to 1951 the general population increase was 96 per cent,” the population of the Kibbutzim increased only by 25.7 percent. This is in contrast to the period prior to the War of Independence when the growth of collective settlements kept pace with the increase of the general population, the Mission point out.

The U.N. Mission stresses the fact that “the masses of new immigrants do not feel attracted to the kibbutzim since their past predisposes them against collective living.” This state of affairs, it says, causes considerable concern not only to the settlements but also to the government which is aware of the importance of collective agriculture in a country threatened by over-urbanization.

NEXT STORY