NEW YORK (Oct. 12)
Efforts to improve education and housing for Israel’s poor were described here by Yehoshua Levy, treasurer of Histadrut, who took sharp issue with the Black Panthers and others in Israel who accuse the government of discrimination against low income families, especially those of Oriental origin. Addressing a meeting of the executive staff of the National Committee for Labor Israel, Levy said “The facts are that last year the Israel government. Histadrut and private builders made available 32,000 new housing units of which 10,000 were reserved for new immigrants, and the rest for older settlers, including many of the low income bracket.”
Continuing, Levy observed: “In the field of elementary and secondary education, there is certainly no discrimination against our Oriental Jews since education is free until the age of 15, and 60 percent of those in the upper grades of high school also are exempted from tuition fees.” He said the Histadrut Scholarship Fund “Is especially effective in helping teenagers of poor families to continue their education.” Levy acknowledged that some 42,000 families live in sub-standard housing but said the problem could be solved within five years. The government and Histadrut have set up a low interest loan fund for those who need a down payment for homes, he said.
Referring to Histadrut programs, Levy said the largest single budget item was the nationwide medical service which covers over two million Jews and Arabs. It will require over $200 million for the maintenance of Histadrut hospitals, clinics and related health institutions and expansion of their facilities, he said. Levy reported the opening this month of Israel’s largest vocational training school in northern Tel Aviv with an enrollment of 1,500 students. He said the building cost $3.5 million and the equipment another $1.5 million, a large part of which came from the Lady Davis Foundation in Canada. Levy reported that the Histadrut Scholarship Fund has reached an endowment of $1.2 million and in 1972 will grant $240,000 for full and partial scholarships, double the amount available this year.