JERUSALEM (Sep. 3)
Max Fisher, chairman of the Jewish Agency’s Board of Governors, today predicted an upturn in the U.S. economy that would relieve the "liquidity problems" of some big American donors enabling them to redeem their pledges to the United Jewish Appeal thereby easing the Jewish Agency’s present cash crisis. Fisher made his remarks in an exclusive interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency following a meeting of the full Jewish Agency Executive at which he and Jewish Agency Executive chairman Pinhas Sapir presided.
Jewish Agency Treasurer Leon Dulzin reported at that meeting that this year’s budget was some $200 million short and that the Agency needed the sum urgently in cash. He attributed the deficit to the slumping world economy which he said was slowing down the conversion of pledges into cash.
Fisher, who expressed the same view, told the JTA that while the immediate cash needs were imperative and required urgent attention, there should be no slackening of UJA efforts to obtain large pledges for next year’s campaign. "It would be wrong tactics and wrong psychologically to allow a prominent giver’s temporary liquidity problems to impinge upon his pledge for next year’s campaign," Fisher said.
Citing the most recent Prime Ministers UJA Mission to visit Israel–the largest ever–whose 300 members pledged $15 million, exceeding their previous donations by 20 percent, Fisher observed, "Most men who make large commitments are men of integrity." He said that having overcome their temporary financial setbacks they would fulfill both their old pledges and their new ones. Fisher recalled similar situations in the 1960s and 1970 which he said bore out his thesis.
CONFIDENT IN FORD’S ADMINISTRATION
The Detroit industrialist, a friend of President Ford, said he was confident that the Ford Administration’s economic measures would restore "buoyancy" to the American economy within a period of months.
Fisher expressed satisfaction at Ford’s ascent to the Presidency and his choice of Nelson A. Rockefeller as Vice-President, whom he described as a good friend of Israel. Fisher observed that Ford’s pro-Israel record was well known and, although he was now President and not just a Congressman, Israel could be confident, in view of Ford’s record, Congressional bipartisan support, and widespread public sympathy for Israel’s case. He thought all these elements would result in favorable treatment for Israel’s aid requests despite U.S. economic difficulties.
But for all the Israel-U.S. understanding, Fisher foresaw tough negotiating ahead. He said it was correct for Israel’s leaders to state firmly now that they would not succumb to "salami" tactics which in the end would leave Israel denuded of her bargaining positions and none the richer peace-wise.
DEAL ON JACKSON AMENDMENT CLOSE
Turning to other matters, Fisher told the JTA that he believed a deal on the Jackson Amendment was "pretty close." He firmly denied that he had ever opposed the Jackson Amendment. Reports that he had were "without foundation," he declared. But he said he had felt all along that Sen. Henry M. Jackson (D.Wash.) and the Administration would reach a "reformulation" of the initial legislation mutually agreed upon.
FORD’S INTERVENTION AIDED SOVIET JEWS
Concerning Sylva Zalmanson’s release, Fisher recalled his own intercession with Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger on her behalf last summer. He said he could not know if this had been instrumental in her release but thought it possible. He attributed progress on the issue of Soviet Jewish emigration to Ford’s personal intervention immediately on assuming office last month. Fisher said he was confident that if harassment ended inside the Soviet Union and Jews were allowed to leave without difficulty, the present downward trend in Soviet aliya would be reversed.
Fisher stressed that this did not mean that inadequate and unsatisfactory absorption facilities in Israel had no adverse affect on the decisions of Russian Jews to emigrate. He said it was up to the Jewish Agency, with the government’s help, to solve these problems and assure smoother absorption. A great deal has been done, Fisher said. He predicted that the housing bottleneck would soon be cleared and said the Agency was making great efforts to create job openings and suitable training programs for the newcomers.
MRS. MEIR WILL VISIT U.S. IN DEC.
Fisher announced that former Premier Golda Meir will visit the U.S. in Dec. on behalf of the UJA, one of a number of top Israeli leaders enlisted in the forthcoming UJA campaign. He said the UJA hoped to raise as much or more money next year than in last year’s record-breaking post-Yom Kippur War campaign. He said that as part of the effort, 65 UJA missions from the U.S. would be brought to Israel during Oct. and Nov. comprising some 2000 American Jewish leaders who would study the country’s present needs at first hand.
Fisher indicated that in expressing these views he spoke in his name alone. He nevertheless felt that this represented a consensus of the UJA key lay and professional thinking.