JERUSALEM (May. 25)
Immigrant Absorption Minister Natan Peled denied today recent charges by Black Panthers that State funds are being wasted on new immigrants while the Israeli poor are being neglected. Replying to questions at a press luncheon, Peled said, however, that he was looking into the matter of granting new immigrants loans to buy cars. He said that to his knowledge no immigrants who purchase luxury apartments have applied for government loans, although they would be entitled to them under existing practice. He said that if such applications were made he would consider restricting the loans. Jerusalem’s self-styled Black Panthers are slum youths, mostly of North African and Asian origin. They have demonstrated, sometimes violently, against what they allege is discrimination against Oriental Jews in housing, employment and education. They have charged that new immigrants from the Soviet Union and from affluent Western countries receive generous financial aid from the State while impoverished slum dwellers are neglected. Peled said he has set up a committee to examine the whole problem. Peled added that as a matter of principle “there is no reason to neglect immigrant absorption in order to find funds to fight poverty.” He suggested other areas where funds could be diverted, such as public building. “The underprivileged sectors of the population should be given serious care…In my view social development should be given no less priority than national security,” Peled said.