JERUSALEM (Feb. 8)
Premier Golda Meir castigated ultra-Orthodox elements in the Knesset today after a no confidence motion introduced by the Agudat Israel faction was crushed by a 67-8 vote. The motion accused the government of forcing religious Jewish emigres from Soviet Georgia to violate the Sabbath and alleged that some were fired from jobs at Lydda Airport because they refused to work on Saturday. The motion drew the support only of the Poalei Agudat Israel faction. There were 13 abstentions.
Speaking in the Knesset, Premier Meir accused the Agudat Israel of presenting the motion because of “an unholy competition among the religious parties” to capture the souls of the Georgian immigrants. She accused the ultra-Orthodox parties of trying to persuade Georgian Jews not to come to Israel because the country is not sufficiently religious to suit them. She claimed that this verged on incitement and observed that the Georgian emigres were settling down as well as if not better than most other immigrants.
Mrs. Meir said the Georgian Jews at Lydda Airport were hired as porters temporarily during the Christmas season tourist rush and knew in advance that their employment was seasonal. Nobody was fired for refusing to work on the Sabbath, she said. The eight dismissed by the Airport were offered steady jobs in the Post Office where they will not be required to work on Saturday.
Rabbi Shlomo Lorincz, the Agudat Israel MK who had moved the no confidence motion, said he was willing to accept the explanation that there was no deliberate intention by the government to force the Georgian emigres to abandon their faith. But he accused the Labor and Transport ministries of requiring the Georgians to work on the Sabbath or lose their jobs.