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Sapir: Increased Aliya, Israel’s Aim

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Pinhas Sapir, chairman of the World Zionist Organization and Jewish Agency Executives, said today that Israel’s goal was a 4-5-fold increase in aliya from the United States. He said the average emigration at present from this country was about 2000 families a year. His aim, he said, is to reach a yearly aliya from the U.S. of 8-10,000 families.

Sapir spoke to a gathering of Jewish Journalists at a press conference at WZO headquarters here. He described his current visit to the U.S. as “a special mission to create an atmosphere of aliya.” He said his schedule called for meetings with Jewish students, community leaders and organizations. He stated that he was also considering approaches to American Jews who are not affiliated with Jewish organizations and that one of his ideas was to hold a conference with them to deal with the issue of aliya.

Sapir said that despite the severe economic and political problems confronting Israel, the country was capable of absorbing newcomers in large numbers. He said Israel could absorb “80,000, 90,000 or even 100,000 Russian Jews a year,” and even larger numbers. “I am not a dreamer,” he said, acknowledging that many problems remained to be solved. But he said one of the most urgent of them, “the problem of housing, is solved.” Sapir recalled that in the early years of Israel’s statehood 1948-51, it absorbed hundreds of thousands of immigrants with a population of only 600,000. Today, he said, Israel has a population of three million and is in a much better position to absorb newcomers than in the early years.

FUTURE OF ISRAEL TIED TO ALIYA

Yesterday, Sapir addressed students at the Stern College for Women, urging them to settle in Israel because “the future of Israel depends on aliya,” Without it, he said, Israel would not have survived for 26 years. “I ask you to come to Israel,” he said, adding that Israel can absorb professionals in all fields including teachers, technicians and “young people who can build factories.”

Questioned about Israelis who have left their country to settle elsewhere, Sapir estimated their number at no more than 200,000 since the creation of the State. Israel is a democracy and cannot prevent emigration, he said. But he noted that Israel was trying to “create conditions for people to stay.” (By Yitzhak Rabi.)

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