JERUSALEM (Aug. 28)
Jewish Agency Treasurer Leon Dulzin warned 300 American Jewish leaders here today that if Israel failed to absorb new Soviet immigrants it would spell the death blow to the hopes of hundreds of thousands perhaps millions, of Soviet Jews who might want to come to Israel at some time in the future. Despite of Israel’s crushing economic burdens and social and security problems, no Jew in Israel or abroad could dare say or think “let’s wait with Soviet aliya.” Dulzin said. Without aliya there was no justification for the struggle and sacrifice which Israelis lived with daily, he said.
While the post-Yom Kippur War contributions from world Jewry had been unprecedentedly large, and despite the economic slumps in the U.S. and worldwide, Israel has no alternative but to appeal to Jewry abroad this year to give as much and more than last year to help with absorption of newcomers and absorption-in-depth of veteran Israelis still suffering from socioeconomic hardships, Dulzin stated in his address to the 300 Jewish leaders who are here for the 1974 UJA Prime Ministers’ Mission headed by Paul Zuckerman, UJA general chairman.
WAR COST $8 BILLION
The audience was hushed and somber as Dulzin spelled out the extent of Israel’s economic troubles. The war, he said, had cost $8 billion (compared to the Six-Day War which had cost $400 million). This year’s national budget was close to $9 billion, of which around $4 billion was earmarked for defense spending. Defense accounted for 35 percent of the GNP–compared with seven percent in the U.S. and four percent in the larger European countries, he noted.
Inflation in Israel was currently running at 40 percent for this year. It was largely caused by the war’s aftermath, but Israel’s fuel bill alone had risen by $600 million as a result of price hikes abroad, Dulzin stated. There was also a massive trade deficit–$3.5 billion in 1974 compared with $1.2 billion last year. Taxes had been raised to “the highest imaginable level.” Dulzin said. Against this backdrop, Israel had to absorb the immigrants, which he described as the Jewish State’s reason for being.
150,000 SOVIET JEWS APPLIED FOR VISAS
This year’s forecast of 60,000 olim did not seem to be in prospect, following the major slump since Jan. in Soviet aliya, he said. Nevertheless, Dulzin predicted that very soon–with a Jackson-Administration compromise in the offing–4000-5000 Soviet olim would be arriving each month, more than during the best months of last year. Israel would have to provide them with housing and jobs, he stated. Some 150,000 Soviet Jews had already applied for exit visas, Dulzin revealed, and he was certain many more would do so if, and when, the harassment ceased.