JERUSALEM (Aug. 28)
A strong tendency among Jewish Agency leaders here in the direction of declaring an immediate all-out immigration of North African Jews was noted here following the reports from North Africa which have been presented to sessions of the Zionist Actions Committee in the past few days. While the Agency leaders refrained from giving any details of their proposed resolution on this score, they maintained that they considered the situation to be a very serious one.
Meanwhile, the threat of an “illegal” emigration by North African Jews who are presently kept out by Israel’s limitation of immigration was voiced before the Actions Committee by A. Fingerhut, Chief Rabbi of Algiers. Rabbi A. Fingerhut spoke in the name of all the North African delegations to the current session.
Replying to him, Israel Minister of Finance Levi Eshkol, who is also chief of the Jewish Agency’s settlement department, said that there was no question of limitation of immigration, but rather of the hard fact that bringing 100,000 Jews to Israel meant the expenditure of 150,000,000 pounds in initial costs–without taking into account the costs of ultimate settlement.
At present, Eshkol continued, there are not even sufficient funds to pay the travel expenses of the proposed mass immigration. He suggested that there must be found at least 250,000 of the 2,000,000 shekel holders throughout the world who will add at least $100 per person to their present contributions for a special rescue fund. He was immediately followed by Zerubavel who called for a policy of no-delay irrespective of cost, saying: “Remember that the slaughterer always stands ready with his knife.”
Turning to other matters, the Actions Committee heard a vigorous attack by Rabbi M. Zumbarsky of the Canadian Mizrachi, against the “preference system,” which he claimed acted as a strict limitation on members of the religious parties. “What are we to do,” he asked, “if there are religious settlers who wish to come to Israel and funds allotted us under the percentage quota are exhausted# Must they lose their lives or their faith#”
Replying to the Canadian Rabbi, Moshe Kol said that more than $100,000,000 of the Jewish Agency’s budget was earmarked for North African immigration and that 80 percent of Youth Aliyah’s budget went for the same purpose. He denied that there was any discrimination in his organization against religious youth and declared that education within the Youth Aliyah movement was traditional, stressing Jewish spiritual values.