MONTREAL (Nov. 18)
A leading international Zionist official expressed concern here that a dichotomy appears to be developing within some segments of diaspora Jewry and among some Israelis who view the relationship between the two communities in terms of “we” and “they” or “we” and “you”.
In reality, he said, all diaspora Jews and Israelis are bound together by “an agenda of common concerns. “This agenda and its ramifications was the focus of a major address by Leon Dulzin, chairman of the Jewish Agency Executive, Thursday night to 2600 Jewish community leaders from the United States and Canada attending the 48th General Assembly of the Council of Jewish Federations at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel.
In an impassioned speech, remarkable for its frankness on a number of sensitive issues, Dulzin observed that the agenda of common concerns “is dominated by fund-raising and I find this most unfortunate from two points of view. “One is” the reality of the need for funds, “he said. “we are constantly oppressed by this need both in Israel and in your local communities. That reality makes necessary an enormous drain on our time and thought, on our energies, on our leadership resources.”
The second, Dulzin said, “is the fact that the necessary preoccupation with fund-raising distracts us from the other items on our common agenda” which he said “can be summed up as the survival of the Jewish people, That is what all our discussions and strivings are about” and “this is the essence of the ideological dimension of our partnership.” Nevertheless, he added, fund-raising is part of the common agenda to meet Israel’s needs and the needs of the Jewish people. The task in this area, Dulzin noted, is to “seek means to share the burden” of overcoming the lack of funds and “to share the burden as equitably as possible. “Dulzin called upon the assembled leaders” to mount today” a “massive campaign to produce $100 million in cash in the next few months. We will have a difficult enough situation with our budget for the coming year. Let us not add to it for the coming fiscal year an enormous deficit in meeting human needs. “He said the Jewish Agency is confronted with the need to” make drastic cuts in absorption services because of a massive decrease in our cash flow.”
IMMIGRATION ISSUES OUTLINED
Dulzin outlined the specifics of the common agenda as immigration, settlement, and social needs. Dealing with immigration, he declared that aliya “is the indispensible guarantee of Israel’s security, of Israel’s future. “On the issue of Soviet Jewish dropouts, he said he considered this “to be of the gravest concern in its impact on your communities on Israel and on Soviet Jewry. The new dimension of the problem is its effect on your local budgets, and the critical shortfall of cash that has resulted for the Jewish Agency. “In considering the dropout problem, Dulzin urged the Jewish leaders to “remember we are not speaking about refugees. A refugee is someone who is compelled to leave his country and has no place to go. The Vietnamese boat people are refugees. The Cambodians are refugees. But today there are no Jewish refugees. Whether they are from a South American .country, from an Arab country, from Iran or from the Soviet Union, Jews seeking a haven and a new life have a place to go. They have Israel. “In this perspective, the issue of the dropouts is basically an issue of maximum numbers of Jews leaving the Soviet Union and a maximum number of those Jews going to Israel, he said.
CITES HIGH COST OF PEACE
Dulzin also expressed concern about how the diaspora-Israeli “partnership is holding up in the very real crises which confront Israel and the Jewish Agency at this time. “There is, he said, ” a great deal of uncertainty, a great deal of worry in Israel today which revolve around security, the international situation, the political and economic situation in Israel, and urgent new needs in the Jewish State.” The peace treaty with Egypt marked a turning point in Israel’s search for peace with its Arab neighbors but, he cautioned, this was the beginning of the road and not the end of the process. The hostile Arab world, and especially the Palestine Liberation Organization, has proclaimed its determination to destroy Israel “and they have given us every reason to believe that they mean it, “Dulzin stated. As a result, he said, “we are compelled to keep our defenses high. We must continue to maintain maximum security. To maintain this high defense posture, means that defense costs continue to be a disproportionately large part of the national budget-about 30 percent-and a major factor in inflation.”
Even peace is proving to be expensive, Dulzin said, referring to the cost of building new defense lines in the Negev, which, he noted, will cost more than the assistance Israel receives from the United States for the new airfield in Sinai. The international situation of Israel “is also no cause for comfort,” he said. “The PLO continues to score political victories. Mr. (Yasir) Arafat (the PLO leader) continues to be received by more democratic governments. We are feeling greater pressure from friends to deal directly with the PLO. Our political isolation continues.”
On the home front, inflation and the balance of payments are problems of utmost concern, Dulzin said. “While you in America worry about double-digit inflation, we in Israel are worried about triple digit inflation, “he stated. One remedy proposed for combatting inflation is to cool off the economy by reducing the number of jobs and creating some unemployment, Dulzin said. “But what will happen if we say to potential immigrants that we cannot provide adequate housing, that they are coming into a land of reduced job opportunities?” he asked. In terms of social needs, Dulzin said, Israel is confronted with the problem of more young people and large families who are desperately in need of housing and more families who need help because inflation has reduced them to a point barely above the poverty line. Those in need, he cautioned, are saying with greater frequency: “we have waited a long time; we are not prepared to wait longer.”
ACKNOWLEDGES DIFFERENCES OVER SETTLEMENT POLICIES
Dulzin said that another reason for his concern about the state of the Israel-diaspora partnership “is the apparent unhappiness of many Jews with certain qualities of the present government, mostly with respect to the settlements on the West Bank. Obviously, you, the Jews of the diaspora, have the right to your opinions, and to express them, hopefully, in a constructive and responsible way. There are also Jews in Israel with different opinions about the government. That’s what democracy is all about.”