CHICAGO (Aug. 25)
Premier Yitzhak Rabin called on the Jewish communities in the United States and Canada yesterday for increased large-scale financial aid to help solve Israel’s serious economic problems. In the midst of his negotiations for a new interim agreement with Egypt, Israel’s Premier cabled an urgent request to 600 Jewish leaders meeting here at the International Fall Planning Conference of Israel Bonds asking for help to “lighten the burden of our people.” He said they were hard pressed by “serious economic problems” resulting largely from Israel’s enormous defense burden.
Israel Bond funds are needed, Rabin said, “to maintain our economic stability and the momentum of our economic development.” Referring to the latest disengagement negotiations, he emphasized that despite its strong commitment to peace, Israel “would never agree to peace at the expense of our vital security.”
Rabin attributed the present difficult economic situation to “overwhelming defense needs,” a continued high rate of inflation and the gap in the balance of payments. The message from the Premier was addressed to Sam Rothberg, general chairman, and Michael Arnon, president of the Israel Bond Organization.
Rothberg sounded the keynote of the fall campaign for the sale of Israel Bonds which was initiated at the three-day convention and which brought its sessions to a close yesterday afternoon. He said that the Israel Bond campaign was vital to strengthen Israel economically in the midst of critical negotiations for peace and to provide “a decisive and constructive answer to intensified Arab economic warfare fueled by incredible oil wealth.”
TWO-PRONGED PROGRAM LAUNCHED
In response to Rabin’s call for greater economic assistance, the conference launched a two-pronged program to broaden campaign activities in the Jewish community as well as in the business and financial world.
Arnon said that the opening of the fall campaign will have its most important phase through the participation of a record number of more than 1000 synagogues in the United States and Canada during the forthcoming High Holy Day period. At the same time. he said, the Bond Organization will make an even wider effort to enlist the cooperation of banks, pension funds, trade unions, insurance companies and other financial and communal institutions in the purchase of Israel Bonds.
Ze’ev Sher, Israel’s economic minister in the United States and Canada, warned that even if tranquility is established on the political and military fronts, as a result of a new interim agreement with Egypt, the Arabs would not halt their economic warfare against Israel. He said that public opinion appears to be attracted to Arab money and development potential and does not recognize the investment opportunities in Israel. This attitude, Sher said, encourages the Arabs to maintain and intensify their boycott activities against Israel and companies which do business with it.
U.S. $ AID INCIDENTAL TO PACT TALKS
When Sher was asked whether Israel would receive $2 billion in military and economic aid from the United States in return for withdrawing from its present position in the Sinai, he replied that the discussions concerning the level of aid were only incidental to the negotiations for a new interim agreement with Egypt. He pointed out that Israel had submitted its request for aid from the United States in January of this year, months before the present negotiations were initiated as part of the long-standing American policy to provide financial aid as a means of guaranteeing Israel’s security.
Julian B. Venetzky of Peoria, ill., national chairman for regions, urged the Jewish leaders to take cognizance of the dangers of the new anti-Semitism financed by Arab oil wealth. In the concluding address of the conference. Venetzky said “Let history repeat itself in every other area and for every other people, but we as Jews have learned the lesson of history and we will not permit another Hitler in whatever form and whatever disguise to threaten Israel and the Jewish people with annihilation again.”