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Record Sums of Money Pledged by Diaspora Leadership to Aid Israel

The Jewish Agency’s Board of Governors, winding up its meeting here at which unprecedented sums were pledged on behalf of world Jewry for social welfare, training and immigrant absorption work in Israel, took up other problems today, some of which are expected to be resolved when the General Assembly of the reconstituted Jewish Agency convenes here June 16.

One of these is the election of a new chairman to succeed the late Louis Pincus. Since Pincus’ death last Aug., Jewish Agency Treasurer Leon Dulzin has been serving as acting chairman of the Jewish Agency and World Zionist Organization Executive. It was Dulzin who stressed today that the new chairman should be elected by the June Assembly, unanimously if possible, but certainly by a very large consensus. He was seconded in that by Max Fisher of Detroit, chairman of the Board of Governors.

Dulzin also expressed confidence that 85-90 percent of the $1.25 billion from world Jewry which the Board of Governors set as a target last night would be raised by the time the General Assembly convened in June. Fisher stressed that this goal had been established by diaspora leaders themselves, not in response to Israeli appeals as had been the case of the $1.25 billion pledged during the Yom Kippur War. “This is our initiative and our responsibility,” said Fisher.

Jewish Agency director general Moshe Rivlin brought up the criticism expressed recently by Haifa’s Mayor-elect and former Labor Minister Joseph Almogi that Israeli emissaries on fund-raising missions abroad often painted too grim a picture of the situation in Israel. Rivlin disclosed that after Almogi’s remarks were published in the Jewish Telegraphic Agency’s Daily News Bulletin on Jan. 22. United Jewish Appeal general chairman Paul Zuckerman, and executive vice-chairman Irving Bernstein cabled Almogi that it was not UJA policy to paint a bleak picture.

Rivlin noted that Almogi, who led the Labor Party to a sweeping 58 percent victory in Haifa’s municipal elections Dec. 31 and was today elected Mayor by the City Council, had not accused UJA officials or lay leaders but rather emissaries sent from Israel. He said that he and other Jewish Agency and government leaders would meet with Almogi soon to hear his complaints.

70,000 OLIM EXPECTED THIS YEAR

Dulzin said he expected 70,000 immigrants to arrive in Israel this year and that the Jewish Agency was budgeting accordingly. Because income is not known, the Board of Governors has approved a three-month temporary budget of $150 million pending consideration of a full budget for 1974-75 by the General Assembly in June.

Dulzin said that Soviet immigration was continuing at a steady pace despite the seasonal drop and that he expected at least as many this year as last year when the Soviet aliya amounted to 33,000. Dulzin reported that 4200 arrived in Oct.; 3800 in Nov.; 3600 in Dec.; and 2600 in Jan. He noted that less than one percent of the 83,000 emigres who arrived from the Soviet Union in the last three years has left. This, he said, was a surprisingly low figure relative to other mass immigration.

Dulzin reported that he had personally inspected the new immigrant transit facilities in Austria two weeks ago and found them quite satisfactory in terms of efficiency and security. The new facilities replaced the old transit center at Schoenau Castle which the Austrian government shut down last year.

DULZIN PRAISED FOR FINE JOB

It was apparent that the question of who will fill the Jewish Agency-WZO chairmanship was a subject of considerable discussion behind the scenes at the Board of Governors meeting. It has also been raised in the Israeli press. The post is probably the most prestigious outside the higher echelons of government. Many Israelis and overseas leaders feel Dulzin would fill the bill admirably. He is considered to have done a creditable job as acting chairman since Pincus’ death and is actively campaigning for the chairmanship. The main obstacle is that Dulzin is a leader of the Liberal Party, one of the factions comprising the Likud, whereas the Jewish Agency chairmanship has been a Labor fiefdom since the 1930s.

However, the reconstitution of the Jewish Agency has introduced diaspora leaders into its ranks and while they are loath to interfere in an Israeli sphere of influence, they have made it known to Premier Golda Meir that they expect the Jewish Agency chairmanship to be filled by a person of the highest caliber.

Some diaspora leaders have suggested Foreign Minister Abba Eban or Deputy Premier Yigal Allon, but neither wants the job. The name of Hebrew University President Avraham Harman, a former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S., has been advanced. Knesset gossip has it that Deputy Speaker Yitzhak Navon, chairman of the Zionist General Council, is being urged to forward his candidacy. But neither he nor Harman are considered likely to command the very broad consensus that the new chairman ought to have. (David Landau)

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