Rome (Aug. 31)
A pseudo-Biblical play which the Chief Rabbi of Rome branded as anti-Semitic and filled with Fascist propaganda will close tonight after its third performance. The second performance was disrupted last night by Jewish demonstrators. One man leaped to the stage shouting “falsification of the Bible.” He was arrested but released shortly afterwards. Actors walked off the stage and refused to return for fear of violence. But Riccardo Billi, director of the little known troupe said a final performance would be given tonight. The play, titled “Judah the Pig” by Giancarlo Fusco, had its first performance two weeks ago and was suspended because of protests. Chief Rabbi Eliah Toaff said at the time that it was a “total falsification” of the Biblical character of Judah, son of Jacob, Critics described the play as a highly pornographic and racist version of the story of Jacob and Tamar. The playwright began his career as an anti-Nazi partisan but was said to have become mentally unbalanced in recent years. He has been arrested several times for drunkenness. “There is no reason to cry.” Sapir said, observing that businessmen have been doing quite well. Sapir’s dispute with Histadrut secretary general Yitzhak Ben Aharon over the price rise was not settled at his meeting with Histadrut leaders yesterday. But the Finance Minister appeared ready to roll-back the cost of bread to its pre-devaluation price and to reduce the prices of other essential commodities such as eggs, milk and oil. Ben Aharon, after consulting with experts, said that he was convinced there was no need for higher prices on essentials. He said if the prices were not reduced Israeli workers would demand full compensation and would not agree to a wage freeze.
In another important economic development today, the Housing Ministry published an order freezing the price of apartments until Dec. 31. The freeze is based on the price as of Aug. 15, 1970. Under the order signed by Housing Minister Zeev Sharef, an apartment may not be sold for a higher price without special permission from the Ministry. The order applies to prices quoted orally or in writing. Complaints of alleged violations may be submitted to any one of 22 bureaus, it was announced today. Where no contracts exist, the complainants were advised to bring witnesses or other evidence of an unauthorized price hike. Sharef told a meeting Friday of private contractors that the price of flats was bound to rise but promised that his ministry would do everything in its power to hold back the increase. The price rise is not an immediate result of devaluation but has been going on for the past two years due to the housing shortage. Sharef said devaluation should cause no more than a four percent increase in contractors’ costs. Meanwhile, the price control board was at a loss to control or roll-back the prices being asked for synagogue seats for the high holidays. Many complaints have been received that the seat prices have been hiked from ten to 30 percent over last year although there is no foreign currency component involved as in other goods and services that have been subjected to price rises. But the board can find no regulation applicable to synagogue seats.