Black Leader Says Soviet Jews in Israel Eager to Help Build State

Manhattan Borough President, Percy Sutton, on a recent visit to Israel, found that Soviet Jewish immigrants there had undergone a profound change since he had met with a group of them in Moscow in December, 1973. In the first of a series of articles in the Amsterdam News reporting on his latest tour of Africa and Israel, Sutton said he visited an Israeli absorption center in January to renew his acquaintance with the same Soviet Jews who two years ago were still struggling to obtain exit visas.

“I saw them and found that the change was great,” the Black political leader wrote. “They were excited. They were involved and they were busily attempting to learn the Hebrew language so as to be able to move out of the absorption centers and to utilize their technical and scientific skills toward building a greater Israel.” Sutton said “These are brave people who reminded me so much of ourselves, as Black people, in our long struggle for dignity and freedom here in America.”

Sutton said that another aspect of Israel that greatly impressed him on his recent visit was the sight of warm weather crops thriving in the cold of January. “It was virtually mind-boggling to see the orange groves, the banana plantations and the tomatoes, the broccoli, cabbage and other vegetables growing in severe cold bigger and better than if they were in the warm sun of Florida or Southern California,” Sutton said.

He added: “These fruits and vegetables growing in the cold attested to the genius of a dedicated group of agronomists, technicians and scientists who had turned Israel’s roadside, mountains and desert into fertile and productive land; a genius which I was to hear commented upon with favor later in my trip through Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique.”

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