JERUSALEM (May. 22)
Israel began taking its first national census in 11 years yesterday and the first citizens counted were President Zalman Shazar and Premier Golda Meir. The head-count will take ten days and will cover only Israeli territory within the boundaries that existed before the June, 1967 Six-Day War. A separate census was held in East Jerusalem and the occupied territories shortly after the Six-Day War. The Israeli population is estimated at 3.2 million.
The current census is being taken for statistical and planning purposes and includes housing. But several thousand ultra-Orthodox Israelis led by zealots of the Naturei Karta sect, refuse to be counted and spread posters all over Jerusalem today urging other “God-fearing Jews” to do the same.
According to a spokesman for the sect which does not recognize the sovereignty of a Jewish State, a population count before the coming of the “Messiah” is permitted only in fulfillment of religious commandments, for “holy” reasons of another kind or in the event that war is imminent. Followers of the Naturei Karta have refused to participate in previous censuses and have not accepted identity cards.