Development Towns Impress Three American Professors

Three American professors fell in love with the three development towns of Netivot, Beisan and Hatzor. The three — Prof. David Sidorsky, Philosophy professor of Columbia University in New York, Prof, Erwin Kotler, professor of International Law at McGill University in Montreal, and Prof. Haim Waxman, professor of Sociology at Brooklyn College in New York — have begun what is designed to be an ongoing project of linking development towns to American Jewish communities.

The idea was that of the Organization and Information Department of the World Zionist Organization, which felt that instead of sending Israelis abroad to tell about Israel, it might prove worthwhile to bring American community leaders to Israel. The three professors, all of whom speak Hebrew, spent a week at the development towns, and the rest of their 10-day tour summing up their experience of living with Israelis at the development towns.

The three told newsmen at a press conference yesterday they were surprised to find out that conditions in the development towns were much better than their image in the mass media abroad. They said they had found out, contrary to their expectations, that the development towns were not at all similar to poor neighborhoods in the U.S., and that the residents led a much more organized life.

However, the three guests-did not minimize the problems facing the development towns. They said that in Beisan, for example, there was a shortage of academic manpower which was necessary to strengthen the existing plants. Prof. Sidorsky, who had spent a week in Netivot in the south, said he encountered a promising local leadership which he preferred to the “imported” kind of political leadership.

Following the successful experience with these three professors the idea is to send to development towns groups of volunteers, and eventually haul every development town fostered by a Jewish community abroad. The three professors are visiting Israel under the auspices of the Zionist Council of Arts and Sciences, the academic arm of the American Zionist Federation.

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