Jerusalem (Jul. 1)
Israeli officials responsible for immigrant absorption explained some of their problems and replied to criticism at a session of the Zionist General Council here last night. Hillel Ashkenazi, director general of the Absorption Ministry, said that more than $3.5 million had been loaned to new immigrants out of a special fund last year. He admitted that 400 newcomers had received loans to buy cars, but said they represented only a tiny fraction of the 42,000 immigrants who arrived. The Absorption Ministry has come under criticism for loaning money to immigrants from affluent countries allegedly to purchase cars or luxury flats. Uzi Narkias, head of the Jewish Agency’s immigration department heatedly denied that the Agency’s emissaries abroad gave prospective immigrants false information about conditions in Israel. Ashkenazi said one of the most difficult problems in absorbing newcomers was employment. He said the Ministry operated a retraining program for hundreds of immigrants each year and that a survey showed that 70 percent were satisfied with their jobs at the end of a year’s stay in Israel. Mrs. Faye Schenk, of New York, president of Hadassah, U.S. and Mrs. Sidney Shipton, of Britain, complained that persons over 30 were appearing in their countries as youth representatives. Narkiss reported that in certain countries such as Chile, the Jewish Agency’s investment to encourage immigration was failing because of inactivity by the local communities.
The General Council today approved a $35 million budget for the World Zionist Organization for fiscal 1971-72 and a $25 million budget for the operation of the WZO’s land reclamation agency, the Jewish National Fund. A $4.2 million budget was approved for the operations of the Keren Hayesod, the WZO’s fund-raising arm outside of North America. In a resolution on Jews in the diaspora the Council appealed to the free world to join in denouncing the “shameful oppression of the Jews in the Soviet Union” and pledged to continue to fight for their right to emigrate to Israel. The Council also expressed “anguished concern” for the fate of Jews “degraded and persecuted” in the Arab countries, particularly Syria. In other final resolutions the Zionist Council expressed its solidarity with Israel, hailed the unity of Jerusalem and expressed concern over the large scale Soviet penetration of the Middle East. Moshe Rivlin, executive director of the reconstituted Jewish Agency, was elected by the Council today as an associate member of the Zionist executive. Rivlin, 46, served as Israel’s Consul General in New York from 1952-58.