NEW YORK (Sep. 3)
Israel’s future ability to support itself, and its progress toward that essential goal were discussed by the delegation of the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds with top leaders of the Israel Government in Jerusalem, it was reported here today by Herbert R. Abeles, CJFWF president, following the return of the delegation to New York.
Mr. Abeles, who headed the delegation–the first to be sent by the federations and welfare funds to Israel since the establishment of the Jewish State–said that the discussions were conducted as a basis for help to Israel from the Jewish communities in the United States and other countries. The Jewish federations and welfare funds are the backbone of the United Jewish Appeal and of other fund-raising drives for Israel in this country
“We looked specifically at what Israel must do to close its foreign trade gap of almost $300 million,” Mr. Abeles reported. “That’s what Israel consumes and uses over and above what it produces–and what it now makes up in various forms of aid–our philanthropic dollars, Israel bonds, German reparations, personal indemnifications, intergovernmental aid, coming chiefly from the United States.
ISRAEL’S ANTICIPATED REDUCED INCOME FORMS BACKGROUND OF DISCUSSIONS
“The background for this discussion was the fact that reparations income will cease in the early or mid-1960’s; repayments on Israel bonds must begin about that time (1963), cutting income from that source by about one-third. Just to make up these losses will require close to $90 million or more in exports while holding down imports. To cut into the gap will require an even greater expansion of exports. And that’s complicated by the fact that personal restitution payments–now at the level of $45 million annually–will also decline greatly in the mid-1960’s.” Mr. Abeles stressed.
“The key elements in moving toward self-support,” the CJFWF president continued, “will be Israel’s agricultural and industrial development–the opportunities for the immigrants to find and keep gainful employment. That means a great expansion of private investment, domestic and foreign.
“Private investment was the fourth point of the original Four Point Program launched in 1950-51 (the other three points were philanthropic aid, mainly through UJA; Israel bonds; and intergovernmental aid). But there has been no central organization to help develop private investment, and the level has remained static and much too low. Ideas and plans for increasing private investment–and how they will relate to philanthropic aid-ran through a number of our major discussions.”
“We centered our talks on the work and needs of the Jewish Agency for Israel, as the major beneficiary of our Welfare Funds, and as the major operating organization in Israel for immigration, and for the absorption of immigrants. Many of the immigrants who come to Israel through the help of the Jewish Agency continue to require help for some five to seven years thereafter and there’s a longer period before they begin to repay that help”
“It was very clear to our group that in the drama of rescue and mass immigration, too little attention has been paid in the U.S. to these massive, continuing needs–that these are fundamental and far more costly than transporting the refugees–and that much needs to be done in our understanding and programming for that fact.”
RESPONSIBILITIES OF U.S. JEWS FOR OWN COMMUNAL NEEDS EXPLAINED
While looking into the needs of Israel, the CJFWF delegation also interpreted to the Israelis the responsibilities of American Jews for Jewish communal needs within the United States: “We explained what our federations, welfare funds, and community councils are and what they do–how we raise funds centrally through federated campaigns for major Jewish needs everywhere–and how these funds then flow to Israel from our welfare funds through the UJA, Hebrew University, Technion, and other institutions.” Mr. Abeles emphasized.
“This ran through many of our discussions–but we had a special opportunity to explain American developments in a meeting with a cross-section of 30 key leaders, and in another discussion with the editors of Israel’s 20 leading daily newspapers–all molders of public understanding and opinion,” the CJFWF president reported.
“The cooperation of the Israelis in arranging our discussions was magnificent. They made available all of the time and resources we asked. We had two extraordinary sessions with Prime Minister Ben Gurion–and very fruitful discussions too with President Ben Zvi, with Levi Eshkol, Finance Minister and chairman of the Settlement Department of the Jewish Agency; with David Horowitz, Governor of the Bank of Israel, responsible for Israel’s economic planning; Dr. Dov Joseph, treasurer of the Jewish Agency; Moshe Sharett, former Prime Minister; and others.”
The delegation had an “especially helpful discussion” also with the staff of the U. S. Operations Mission–responsible for administering our American governmental aid program to Israel. “We closed our consultations in Israel with a meeting at which we presented to officials of the Jewish Agency the highlights of our findings. They are now reviewing the substance of that discussion and will be in further touch with us about the matters involved,” the CJFWF president’s report stated.