WASHINGTON (Sep. 13)
A campaign for a record sale of $500 million in Israel bonds to bolster Israel’s economy in the present crisis was launched here today at a national emergency conference of American and Canadian Jewish leaders. Officials said the worldwide drive would seek to obtain $150 million in sales by the end of 1970, with the remaining $350 million in sales to be sought next year. Samuel Rothberg, national campaign chairman, said last year proceeds from Israel bond sales totalled $160 million.
The extraordinary half-billion dollar goal for the next 16 months was adopted by an international conference of world Jewish leaders in Israel last month. Finance Minister Pinhas Sapir told the conference today that Israel’s current defense outlays amount to 25 percent of Israel’s gross national product, compared with the 9.5 percent of the United States GNP. He outlined a five-year economic expansion plan which anticipated total investments of $7 billion, of which $5.5 billion will have to come from outside aid. He said that investment rate was needed to provide for the absorption of 250,000 new immigrants over the next five years and to boost exports from $1.4 billion to $2.6 billion by 1975.
Abraham Feinberg, president of the Israel Bond Organization. urged the “greatest mobilization of financial support” in Israel’s history because Israel’s problems could be met only “by a completely new approach to our obligations and responsibilities.” He pointed out that, to reach the half-billion dollar goal, a doubling would have to be achieved of the record Israel bond sales of $217 million during the year of the Six-Day War.
Mr. Rothberg said that without Israel Bonds, “the economy of Israel cannot be strong enough to withstand the crushing burdens of defense,” or provide homes and jobs for the new immigrants whom Israel must continue to receive for her own sake as well as for the sake of the rebirth of the Jewish people.” Leo Bernstein of New York, Israel Bond vice-president, said that non-Jewish purchasers were having an increasing role in Israel Bond sales. He said that during the past seven years sales to banks, pension funds, labor unions and insurance firms had amounted to $155 million. He emphasized that the primary responsibility was with the Jewish community and that a concerted effort was planned to enroll 1,000 Orthodox, Conservative and Reform congregations in the United States and Canada for an intensive effort during the period of the Jewish High Holy Days. This initial phase, its leaders hope, will produce sales of $30 million, as compared with about $17 million in sales last year.