UJA Mission Told of Dire Needs of 200,000 New Immigrants in Israel

Pinhas Sapir, Israel’s Minister of Finance, called on American Jews to mount a full-scale effort to help his country eliminate social and educational backwardness among Israel’s new immigrants, especially the more than 200,000 Asian and African newcomers living in 21 development towns. He made this plea to 200 American Jewish leaders who are participating in the United Jewish Appeal’s 12th Annual study mission to Israel. The mission is headed by Max M. Fisher, of Detroit, UJA general chairman.

Mr. Sapir expressed fears that economic and educational differences between Israel’s citizens of Western and Asian-African origin could become permanent, “despite everything the Government is doing to help every Jew who comes to Israel, no matter what country he comes from.” The reason why Israel’s 750,000 immigrants from Morocco, Iraq, Yemen and other countries generally have not yet reached the same economic levels as immigrants from European and Western countries, Mr. Sapir said, was due to “the conditions in which these people had to live in their countries of origin over many generations. They left countries where they had been forced to live in poverty and ignorance for centuries. Thus, they lack modern Western vocational know-how, and find it difficult to be absorbed into the productional process of our country,” he declared.

Mr. Sapir told his audience, meeting at the Dan Carmel Hotel, that Israel’s present period of economic transition, with its resultant economic slow-down, has brought increased hardships for thousands of Asian-African newcomers, living in Israel’s development towns, where they make up 75 percent or more of the population. He stated that help from American Jews in speeding the absorption of new immigrants is now all the more urgent because Israel’s people and the Government must now concentrate their efforts and energies on overcoming new economic problems.

Before returning to the United States on October 19, the UJA mission members will attend a State dinner given by Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, and a reception by Israel’s President Zalman Shazar, and hold meetings with former Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, and Aryeh L. Pincus, chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel. The mission’s reports and recommendations will be presented to community delegates attending the UJA annual national conference at the New York Hilton Hotel, December 8-11, and will, in large measure, guide the delegates in setting the objectives and goals of the 1967 nationwide campaign of the UJA.

Mrs. Myer Feinstein, of Philadelphia, was honored here at a session of the mission for her efforts on behalf of the UJA. Mr. Fisher praised Mrs. Feinstein as one who was “unfailingly devoted to welfare and Israel’s newcomers.” Mrs. Feinstein will be present later this week at the dedication of a library which she established in Eilat, Israel’s southernmost town, to be named for herself and her late husband.

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