Menu JTA Search

Polish, Czech and North African Emigration Contributed to $250,000 JDC Deficit

SIGN UP FOR THE JTA DAILY BRIEFING

The emigration of Polish Jews following the post 1967-war rise of official anti-Semitism, of Czech Jews after the Warsaw Pact invasion, and of North Africans, contributed to a 1968 Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) deficit of nearly $250,000, according to Samuel L. Haber, executive vice-chairman.

In his annual report, Mr. Haber said that JDC, the principal American agency aiding needy Jews overseas, was able to anticipate increased Polish emigration and was able to provide funds for it. But the sudden and massive Czech exodus last August was unexpected.

The “emergencies required JDC to divert funds from other programs and to resort to deficit financing,” said Louis Broido, JDC chairman. All told, some 340,000 persons in more than 26 countries were aided. In addition, an estimated 81,000 got assistance in a “relief-in-transit” program which was not reflected in country budgets.

In another message in the annual report, Jack D. Weiler, National Council chairman, said that while 340,000 were assisted last year, “there were still more needy who were denied aid because there were no more funds available.” Explosive conditions in Israel, anxiety in Moslem lands and Polish discrimination “contain the potential danger of creating additional unmet needs” this year, he said.

Mr. Haber estimated that 2,000 Jews fled Czechoslovakia within a few days of the Soviet-led invasion, with 4,000 leaving by the end of 1968 out of a pre-invasion total of 18,000 Jews. He said that the rise in Polish anti-Semitism following the Six-Day War caused the departure of 3,000 Jews from that country in 1968, despite the technical and financial restriction imposed by the Polish Government on Jews who wanted to leave. The rate of departure at the year’s end, he said, was 500 per month.

The hostile atmosphere against the Jews in North Africa decreased in 1968, Mr. Haber said, but, “the social, political and economic conditions of the Jews in those countries have deteriorated markedly. It is estimated that between 25,000 and 30,000 have departed since June, 1967, bringing the combined Jewish population of Morocco and Tunisia down to about 61,000,” compared with more than twice that number five years ago. Mr. Haber said that about 1,000 Jews, mostly aged, handicapped or without funds, have left Egypt since the end of the war.

In Rumania and Yugoslavia, JDC health and welfare programs brought assistance to over 32,000 Jews. In Rumania, the JDC provided a cash allotment to 4,200, special winter relief to 7,800 and Passover grants to 8,500. The JDC also distributed over 12,000 food parcels. The JDC aided over 54,000 of France’s 550,000 Jews during 1968. Five thousand received monthly cash relief, most of whom came from North Africa. Close to 5,000 per month were given medical care and 700 youngsters were housed in 12 JDC-supported children’s homes. In Italy and Austria, where the bulk of aid went to refugees and transmigrants, some 900 East European Jews received aid.

Of 94,000 needy Jews in Israel, Mr. Haber said, some 41,000 were assisted by Malben, the health, welfare and rehabilitation program for aged, ill and handicapped newcomers to Israel. Malben’s activities accounted for nearly two-thirds of the $6,500,000 dispensed or committed in 1968 for institutional and other programs. The JDC also provided about 15 percent of operating expenses for 121 yeshivot with 17,000 students in Israel.

About 20,000 of Morocco’s 45,000 Jews were regularly assisted by the JDC-supported services, Mr. Haber said. The JDC also assisted 6,500 of Tunisia’s 16,000 Jews in 1968. Of Iran’s 75,000 Jews, some 20,000, mostly children and teen-agers were aided. In the three countries, educational and cultural services, medical care and feeding accounted for four-fifths of JDC expenditures. The remaining one-fifth went into day care for pre-school children, welfare and clothing.

In all, JDC’s health, welfare, medical and rehabilitation programs cost $22,126,000 in 1968, Mr. Haber reported. Since the American Jewish welfare agency was created in 1914, it has spent $893,000-000, the bulk of which was raised in United Jewish Appeal campaigns.

NEXT STORY