TEL AVIV (Oct. 28)
The Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel has sharply criticized the United Jewish Appeal, currently holding its national conference here, for neglecting the issue of North American aliya. It also blasted Jewish Agency and World Zionist Organization Executive chairman Yosef Almogi for allegedly mishandling aliya from the U.S. and Canada.
The remarks, made at a press conference here today by Itzhak Haimowitz, president of the AACI, were promptly answered by UJA executive vice-chairman Irving Bernstein and in a statement issued by Almogi’s office. Bernstein responded to Haimowitz’s complaint that AACI representatives were not granted an opportunity to address the visiting UJA delegates who number more than 3000.
He said the Association was always welcome to meet UJA leaders but on this occasion it was not possible because the delegates representing 124 communities in the U.S. and Canada, were split into groups visiting various parts of Israel. They will only come together on the last day of the conference for an address by Premier Yitzhak Rabin, Bernstein said.
Haimowitz said of the UJA: “We think there is a policy to talk to the rich and important people only about appeals and bonds and to save aliya for lesser people. Officials here seem to think North American olim are crazy and that’s the way they are treating us.” He claimed that Almogi was increasing the Jewish Agency’s bureaucracy rather than reducing it. He said “We, as North American olim, understand better than anyone else the problems of North American olim. But he (Almogi) gives us less instead of more opportunities to work with them.”
Haimowitz also alleged that Almogi was trying to destroy the AACI’s aliya movement by not sending new emissaries to the U.S. after the ones there completed their term of duty.
Almogi’s office denied the allegations, observing that Almogi met with an AACI official only a week ago and that everything possible was being done to cooperate with the Association. The statement said that no new emissary was being sent to the U.S. because it is now the policy of the Jewish Agency to place more responsibility on the local American leadership for the promotion of aliya.