TEL AVIV (Jul. 26)
The principal challenge facing Israel today is–how to keep the country from becoming “two Israel”. Aryeh Pincus, chairman of the Jewish Agency, told the United Jewish Appeal Young Leadership Mission, composed of more than 100 men and women in the 25 to 40 age bracket who are being groomed to lead the U.J.A. campaigns of the future. Hailing from 32 American communities, they are presently on a two-week tour of Israel that will take them from one end of the country to the other.
There is already talk of “the second Israel”, the tens of thousands of immigrants who arrived in the country destitute, for the most part with no vocational training, and were sent from the boat to rural backwaters, Mr. Pincus said. The feeling is that if something is not done immediately to rescue them and their children from the cultural oblivion that threatens to become self-perpetuating, the citizens of the next generation will not be up to coping with the problems of a modern democratic state, he stressed.
Mr. Pincus emphasized that of the quarter million Jews who have arrived in Israel in the past five years alone, 200,000 have been settled in rural development areas. Two thirds of them came stripped of every belonging but what they wore on their backs. Of the adults, two thirds had no skills which they could employ to make a living in their new home.” These people, the problem of today, can easily become a threat to the democratic way of life tomorrow — if something is not done soon to integrate them into Israeli society,” he warned.
First priority is naturally given to seeing that these people achieve a healthy level of subsistence, he reported. Now the time has come to make sure that their cultural level — and this often means starting with illiteracy–keeps pace with any advance in their standard of living, Mr. Pincus declared.
“What kind of citizen will come from a home where the father and the son have to compete for the use of the kitchen table–the one to eat his dinner, the other to do his homework?” he asked. He said that there are 33,000 families in Israel with six or more children who live in apartments of less than 330 square feet. “Once this second Israel gets the feeling that he’s forgotten, the same explosive situation can develop that has made Alabama a byword throughout the world”. Mr. Pincus declared.
The problem can be solved, he said, through the joint efforts of American Jewry and Israel. He estimated that $100,000,000 a year channeled into Israel by the UJA would do the trick–cover current immigration expenses and allow for a start to be made on tackling “the second Israel” — pay for the housing, the training, the social workers and the educators.