Begin Offers Haven to 66 Vietnamese

Premier Menachem Begin’s first official act after his government was sworn into office last night was to announce that Israel would provide a haven for 66 Vietnamese refugees rescued at sea by the Israeli freighter Yuvali last week. The refugees, whose own craft sank, have been denied entry by Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan and are now aboard the Yuvali.

Begin told the Knesset that Jews remember other refugee ships that went from port to port and were rejected, a reference to Jews fleeing Europe before and after World War II. “Now we have our Jewish State and we can understand what it means to be a refugee,” he said. His remarks brought an appreciative response from Arieh Eliav of the leftist Sheli faction, one of Begin’s most determined political opponents. Eliav rose and said, “I greet you both as a friend and as an ex-refugee.”

The decision to admit the Vietnamese refugees to Israel until a permanent home can be found for them was actually taken by the outgoing government several days ago.

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