JERUSALEM (Jun. 26)
Pinhas Sapir, the new chairman of the World Zionist Organization Executive, declared here last night that a heavy influx of immigrants was “absolutely vital” for the future security and development of Israel, “If we remain small, nothing will prevent our neighbors from trying again to crush us as they tried in October,” Sapir warned in his address at the closing session of the Zionist General Council here last night. “One dreads to think what would have happened then if immigration had not increased our numbers since the Six-Day War.” he said.
Sapir maintained that if the Arabs realize that Israel is growing steadily, they would inevitably become more reasonable in their demands and aspirations. He spoke of the vital need of aliya against a background of figures that showed it was declining. Rabbi Mordechai Kirshblum, associate director of the Jewish Agency’s aliya department, reported that 55,000 immigrants arrived in Israel during 1973, about 1000 fewer than in the previous years and that of these, the higher proportion was from the Soviet Union and correspondingly less from Western countries.
At an earlier session of the Zionist General Council meeting, a report by the WZO’s controller’s office noted that of 6.2 million Jews in the United States and Canada, only 5409 immigrated to Israel in the fiscal year 1972-73, a substantial decrease from the preceding year. The report also cited an increase in the same period in the number of immigrants from the U.S. and Canada who returned to those countries.
When Sapir announced his candidacy for the WZO and Jewish Agency Executive chairmanships, he said he wanted to devote himself extensively to the problems of immigration and absorption. Resolutions adopted at the closing session of the Zionist General Council urged Zionist Federations all over the world to make aliya their top priority. It called on them to coordinate efforts with the “aliya months” instituted earlier this year by the WZO. The Council also urged the government and other institutions involved to encourage rental housing projects to help alleviate the critical housing shortage which is considered the single most serious deterrent to immigration. The resolution called for the establishment of a consultative council on aliya and absorption to be made up of representatives of all bodies involved, including the various immigrants associations.
COUNCIL APPROVES WZO BUDGET
The Council approved a WZO budget of close to IL, 158 million, an IL 30 million increase over last year’s budget, for fiscal 1974-75. It called on “each and every Zionist Federation to take all steps to assure the mobilization of $1.25 billion for Israel’s needs during 1974 and to give exclusive priority to the emergency campaigns of the United Jewish Appeal and the United Israel Appeal-Keren Hayesod in all countries.”
In other resolutions adopted last night, the Council declared its “full support for Israel in its struggle for a just and lasting peace, based on contractually binding treaties…resulting from free and direct negotiations.” The Council expressed abhorrence of terrorist attacks launched from Lebanon and called on world opinion to condemn the terrorist killers.
The Council praised the courage of Syrian Jewry and praised Jews and non-Jews all over the world who are active in their behalf. Another resolution called attention to the worsening situation of Soviet Jewry and the severe curtailment of exit visas in the USSR. The Council approved a plan to establish an institute in Jerusalem to train information experts. Zionist Federations abroad were asked to cooperate by helping select candidates for the institute and by setting up local seminars on information.
The Council took no action on a proposal by the WZO treasurer, Leon Dulzin, Sunday night, that the various political parties that presently comprise the WZO, voluntarily relinquish some of their power. Dulzin suggested that membership in Zionist Federations abroad be opened to every community, institutions or individual ready to subscribe to the “Jerusalem Program” adopted by the 27th World Zionist Congress in 1968, which recognizes the “centrality” of Israel in Jewish life. The initial reaction of veteran observers here was that the scheme has little chance of being adopted.
CONTROLLER’S REPORT CITES FLAWS
The controller’s report, submitted to the General Council Monday found flaws in the operation of the Jewish Agency’s immigration and absorption departments. The report cited poor communications between emissaries and their district offices; inconsistencies in the reports submitted by emissaries; failure to define the duties and authority of emissaries; lack of guidance in contacts with the communications media and Jewish communities abroad.
The Council heard a report yesterday from Raanan Weitz, head of the WZO’s settlement department on a project to establish some 40,000 new settlers in agricultural and urban areas of Galilee. The plan called for the construction of special quarters for immigrants from various countries in several Galilee towns. Plans for a Western immigrants’ quarter in Safad have already been approved by Sapir. Another project aimed at encouraging youth immigrants was described by Mordechai Bar On, head of the WZO’s youth and hechalutz department. He said the program, to be called “The Jewish Pioneer” will include work at all forms of agricultural settlements, development areas, underprivileged areas and Israeli fighting units. (By David Landau and Gil Sedan)