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Sapir: Israel in Desperate Need of Cash

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Pinhas Sapir, chairman of the Jewish Agency and World Zionist Organization Executives, told the United Jewish Appeal Study Mission here last night that Israel was in desperate need of cash to absorb an expected new influx of immigrants, mainly from the Soviet Union, while maintaining national security and paying the debts of the Yom Kippur War.

Sapir’s message was delivered personally to the 200 members of the UJA mission headed by UJA general chairman Paul Zuckerman and was contained in a letter from Sapir to the leadership of the UJA and the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds (CJF) in America. Sapir’s letter was released by Zuckerman in New York several days ago.

The Jewish Agency leader, who was formerly Israel’s Minister of Finance, said here last night that the only way to prevent another Middle East war was to bolster Israel’s strength by the rapid increase of its population. While Israel today has a population of approximately three million, Sapir said, “within the-next five years we would like to increase to four million and thus be immensely stronger.”

He said that as a result of the Jackson Amendment, Israel expected between 45-60,000 Jews to come here yearly from the Soviet Union. The Jewish Agency is preparing for the absorption of 60,000 immigrants next year, he said, even though immigration declined last year. He noted that only 25,341 emigres arrived from the USSR last year compared to 39,332 the year before.

SHORT OF $200 M IN CASH

In his letter to the UJA and CJF, Sapir reminded the American-Jewish leaders that “a full third of everything we produce” goes to pay for defense needs and the costs of the Yom Kippur War “which consumed an entire year of Israel’s GNP” (gross national product). “How tragic it would be if the cost of security made us diminish in the slightest degree Israel’s very reason for being–providing a home for needy and oppressed Jews,” Sapir wrote.

“You know the figures,” his letter continued. “The Jewish Agency is short of $200 million in cash to meet its commitments, and you know they are minimum. We cannot, as in the past, ask the people of Israel to assume this burden as well. The government has just reduced its budget, including many vital services. If anything, world Jewry must think in terms of recognizing increased responsibilities,” he said.

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