TEL AVIV (Aug. 22)
Several hundred protestors demonstrated last night in Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Square against what their leaders called the government’s preoccupation with the adjustment problems of Soviet Jews to the detriment of the needs of longer-established Oriental Jews. The protest was conducted without incident under sponsorship of the Blue and White Panthers, a splinter group which broke away from Israel’s Black Panthers.
Speakers complained that Premier Golda Meir was “too busy” with Russian Jewry to worry about the problems of poverty and social inequality in Israel. Former Black Panther leader Eddie Malka, who came to the meeting from a hospital where he was taken after collapsing from a hunger strike, called on the dominant Ashkenazic element in Israel to help eradicate the “degradings and loathsome ghettoes in the country’s Oriental community.”
He promised that the Panthers and related protest groups would close down their organizations if that “wonderful Ashkenazi doctor Yisrael Katz came to power.” Dr. Katz is director of the National Institute of Insurance and has been a longtime advocate of larger social welfare benefits and more help for Israel’s poor. Dr. Katz rejects Treasury claims that the country cannot afford such outlays.
Social Welfare Minister Michael Hazani expressed the view that the “national passion” for “conspicuous consumption” rather than defense or immigration was diverting funds which could otherwise be used to help Israel’s needier citizens. In a talk to a group of army officers, he linked current social tensions in Israel to “a revolution of higher expectations.” He said the “revolution” had been “triggered” by the national drive for a constantly higher standard of living. He said that while social services had been increasing in recent years, they had not kept up with the expectations of a more-educated citizenry.