World Zionist Congress Highlights
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World Zionist Congress Highlights

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Immigration Minister Natan Peled told delegates yesterday that Israel was preparing to absorb hundreds of thousands of immigrants and even millions of immigrants during the next eight years. He said most immigrants were quickly and efficiently absorbed and accused the press of focusing on failures. Peled, a Mapam leader, said that a disproportionate number of scientists and professionals were coming to Israel and that in order to absorb them the country would have to become a world center for sciences. He called on the Cabinet to start planning for mass immigration from the Soviet Union.

Prof. Allen Pollack of New York, representing the Labor Zionist Movement slate, said yesterday that all the young members of the various Zionist parties are demanding is a way to integrate those in the 25-40 age bracket into responsible positions in the World Zionist Organization. He said there was a vacuum within the Zionist movement and what was missing was the continuity between generations.

Dr. Nahum Goldmann, president of the World Jewish Congress, yesterday cabled the Congress presidium not to discuss a proposal made before the Congress to re-instate his invitation to address it. In his message from London, Dr. Goldmann stated: “In view of the attitude of the majority of the Zionist Executive in Jerusalem–without the participation of or consultation with the New York members–I have no intention of participating in the Congress.” He referred to the majority decision of the WZO Executive to rescind its invitation to have him address the festive session of the Congress because of the controversy over remarks he made regarding Soviet Jews in an address in London on Dec. 19.

A group of Black Panthers and leftists demonstrated outside of the Congress hall last night but there was no repetition of the near riot that occurred when the Congress opened last Tuesday night. The demonstrators stayed behind police barriers, shouted slogans and passed out leaflets protesting poverty in Israel and the continued detention of some of the 34 demonstrators arrested last Tuesday. Five have been released on condition that they stay away from the Congress hall for the duration of the Congress. But one of them, Black Panther leader Kovachi Shemesh, has been invited to address a Congress committee today on Israel’s social problems.

Ezra Shapiro, world chairman of the Keren Hayesod-United Israel Appeal, said yesterday that the influx of Soviet Jews into Israel this year will require tremendous increases in expenditures by Israel necessitating a special appeal to raise $100 million in addition to the enormous tax burden and compulsory loans imposed on Israeli citizens. “World Jewry must join the Israeli community in hitherto unmatched sacrificial contributions,” Shapiro said.

Rabbi Mordechai Kaplan, founder of the Reconstructionist Movement in the United States, took issue yesterday with Prof. Albert Memmi of the Sorbonne and author of several books on Jewish liberation who had stated at an earlier Congress session that religion, must be divorced from nationality in Israel. Rabbi Kaplan said, “The truth is that it is doubtful if our people would have continued to exist without the identification between nationality and religion.” He added: “It is up to the secular sector to seek in our tradition moral and spiritual values in order to adapt to them. There is room for mutual existence of the religious and the secular and we should strive to restore the solidarity of all sectors of the people who are faithful to private and public moral values.

About 50 new immigrants from the Soviet Georgian Republic attended a plenary session to hear an address by Rafael Balashvili, chairman of the Georgian Immigrants Association. Declaring that Georgian Jews are Orthodox, Balashvili nevertheless denounced “groups who call themselves Orthodox” who have been agitating the Georgians and threatening that unless the government changed its absorption policies they would counsel other Georgian Jews not to emigrate to Israel. Balashvili was referring to ultra-Orthodox groups who contend that the government is not providing for the religious needs of the emigres and was forcing them to live in scattered communities. The Georgian spokesman said he supported the Israel government policy of distributing their community all over the country.

Nahum Golan, the Jewish Agency’s chief aliya emissary to the United States, said yesterday that increased immigration by American Jews was possible but depended more than anything else on the social climate in Israel. He said that for the Americans the problem was not so much jobs or homes but establishing human relationships with Israelis. Golan said that the 36,000 Americans who have emigrated since the Six-Day War increased the American colony here by 150 percent. Their numbers will continue to grow provided the climate is right, Golan said.

The Congress Tribunal, presided over by Israel Supreme Court Justice Moshe Landau, rejected an appeal by Rabbi Meir Kahane, chairman of the Jewish Defense League, to be allowed to address the Congress. Judge Landau based his decision on the fact that Rabbi Kahane had stated publicly that he had no confidence in the Congress Tribunal even though he filed an appeal with it. “Anyone who appeals to a court in which he has no confidence is only seeking to use the court as a forum for his own end,” Judge Landau said.

Rabbi Kahane addressed a meeting of JDL members and supporters in a Jerusalem hotel yesterday to deliver the speech he said he intended to give at the Congress. It was a reiteration of a speech he made in New York a week ago in which he claimed that American Jewry faces a holocaust because of unfavorable economic, social and political conditions. Rabbi Kahane called for an emergency international Jewish conference to “plan for an orderly mass aliya from the United States to Israel.”

A minor row is expected over the chairmanship of the Zionist General Council (Actions Committee) recently vacated by Ehud Avrial. The Labor Party, which has held that post until now, will be vying with the Confederation of General Zionists.

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