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Hillel; Social Problems Must Be Met Despite Heavy Burden Imposed by War

Police Minister Shlomo Hillel warned today that Israel cannot afford to neglect its social problems despite the heavy military burden imposed by war. “We cannot have security at the expense of narrowing our social gap. The opposite is true. The problems of society and welfare are now more urgent than ever,” the Police Minister said addressing a one-day emergency conference convened here by the Executive of the World Sephardi Federation.

He noted that the government has promised good housing for young couples and its obligation now is more pressing than ever because many of the prospective young recipients of the housing have just fought for the country. He called on world Jewry to share Israel’s economic burdens.

The conference was attended by a dozen delegates representing Sephardic communities in the U.S., Canada, Britain, France, Spain, Switzerland and South America. They reported on their fund-raising drives for Israel. The Sephardi Federation in the U.S. has raised some $10 million. British Sephardim, who were represented here by the Chief Rabbi Haham Solomon Gaon, raised $6 million. The delegates met with Jewish Agency officials, Knesset members and Cabinet ministers including Health Minister Victor Shemtov. He and Hillel are the only Sephardic members of the Cabinet.

Referring to political matters, Hillel said that Israel had to stand firm and not permit its enemies to obtain in negotiations what they-failed to attain by war. He said that even if it were true that peace seems a little nearer, there is still a long period ahead involving struggle and military flare-ups. “If we stand firm, we shall eventually reach a compromise settlement but if we do not, we might find ourselves in a new war,” Hillel said.

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