WASHINGTON (Sep. 9)
Veteran Israeli political leader Pinhas Sapir was hailed here last night by some 700 American and Canadian Jewish communal leaders for his contributions to Israel during his 10 years as Minister of Finance and 18 years as a member of Israel’s Cabinet. His appearance at an Israel Bond Organization dinner at the Washington Hilton Hotel climaxed the group’s fall leadership conference.
Speaking under a banner reading “Bonds Mean Jobs For Russian Jews in Israel,” Sapir departed from his prepared text to disclose that he has “an unofficial promise” that 30-40,000 Jews will arrive in a year from the Soviet Union and that he expects 18,000 families “from everywhere” to arrive in Israel in 1974, Sapir did not reveal the nature of the unofficial promise. He asserted that their resettlement in Israel will amount to $600 million in costs.
Noting that Israel’s “first budget item is still defense,” Sapir said the cost of U.S. Phantoms and Skyhawks and other military equipment has doubled in the past six years. “Even with a peace agreement, we must still be strong for many years to come,” he declared. He observed that Israel’s defense amounts to 17 percent of its gross national product, twice as much proportionately as that of the United States. European countries, he added, spend two to five percent “maximum” for their defense.
The Finance Minister also stated that Israel is in the process of establishing an atomic power plant to produce electric power and that Israel will intensify its search for oil in the near future. He said that the only operating oil fields in Israel, at Heletz, have almost completely dried up. Sapir, who usually meets with U.S. officials when he visits Washington, is not expected to do so during this visit. He is going to New York where he will address a number of meetings sponsored by Israel Bonds and will then visit several other major cities.
MUST HELP FULL INTEGRATION OF IMMIGRANTS
Israeli Premier Golda Meir telephoned her congratulations to Sapir in an address recorded for the dinner program. Focussing on Soviet Jewish emigration requirements, she stressed that successful integration by the 60,000 Soviet Jews who came to Israel since 1960 will buoy the hopes of hundreds of thousands of Jews still in the USSR.
“We must be equipped and in a position to give these Russian immigrants decent homes, new jobs, better jobs, steady jobs,” she said. “It would be one of the blackest chapters in the history of our people if the flow of Jews from slavery in Russia to freedom in Israel were to stop because in addition to the barriers set up by the Russians we failed to live up to our commitment to offer them a new and decent life.”
Sam Rothberg of Peoria, lll., general chairman of the Israel Bond Organization, welcomed Sapir as “the chief architect of Israel’s economic progress” and the “father of Israel Bonds.” He announced that more bonds were sold during the past eight months in the U.S. than in any other similar period. The Bond organization has since 1951 provided $2.4 billion through the sale of Israel Bonds for Israel’s economic development.
Others greeting Sapir included Ira. Guilden of New York, president of the Bond Organization; Mrs. Jan Peerce of New York, national chairman of the Women’s Division; and Allan Bronfman of Montreal, president of the Canadian Bond Organization. Speakers included Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Simcha Dinitz, and Michael Arnon, Israeli Ambassador to Canada, who is on leave from his post to serve as the Bond Organization’s executive director.