NEW YORK (Dec. 13)
The 1971 annual conference of the United Jewish Appeal urged American Jewry to intensify its support of the social and educational programs vital to the people of Israel. The conference, which began Thursday and ended today, was attended by more than 2,000 delegates from 250 communities around the country. In an interview, Edward Ginsberg, UJA general chairman, who was re-elected for a fourth term, said. “The people of Israel carry an enormous financial burden. More than 30 percent of Israel’s gross national product goes toward defense needs. Israel has no money to share the burden of the vital social programs which have always been the traditional responsibility of world Jewry, primarily American Jewry.” As a result, he noted, a human crisis exists and it grows more serious each day as new immigrants arrive who must be housed, fed, educated and trained so that they can become self-sustaining members of their society. During 1970, Mr. Ginsberg reported, some 50,000 immigrants arrived in Israel and at least 50,000 more are expected in 1971. There are still 200,000 immigrants of prior years who have yet to be fully absorbed into the fabric of Israeli life. Mr. Ginsberg observed that UJA’s 1971 campaign seeks “not only to arouse American Jewry, but to get them involved in the human needs of their brethren in Israel. The people of Israel have been called upon to give their flesh and blood. All we ask from the American Jewish community is to give the money to maintain vital humanitarian programs.”
The opening session of the conference began with a presentation of cash redeeming 1970 pledges by representatives of some 50 communities from around the United States. Shimon Alexandroni, Economic Minister of Israel to the United States and Canada, told the conference’s opening plenary session that “Israel’s balance of payments deficit for 1970 is $1.3 billion and a $1.5 billion deficit is projected for 1971 because of the large increase in defense expenditures.” This year Israel’s cash reserve, he noted, is at the lowest level since 1962. “The war of attrition has had a severe impact on Israel’s economy, setting it back ten years.” Joseph Meyerhoff of Baltimore. UJA honorary general chairman, commented that “this illustrates the situation the people of Israel face in seeking to furnish social and educational programs for the absorption and integration of newcomers. Voluntary contributions of American Jewry for these humanitarian programs are more vital than ever before.” Samuel L. Haber, Joint Distribution Committee executive vice-chairman noted that in 1970 the JDC provided a variety of rescue, relief and rehabilitation services on behalf of some 315,000 needy Jews around the world and in Israel. Philip Soskis, executive director, New York Association for New Americans, reported that the majority of the refugees helped to settle in the greater New York area were from Poland. Some also came from other Eastern European countries as some from the Middle East.