New York (Mar. 19)
The recent recommendations by the Knesset’s Immigration and Absorption Committee — calling on all Israeli and Zionist bodies abroad to fire yordim and halt any action encouraging yerida — have put Zionist organizations and Jewish leaders here in an uneasy position.
Zionist leaders here, interviewed by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, claimed that the recommendations are unrealistic, unattainable and too severe. All said that they do not intend to fire any Israeli employes they might have, pointing our that such action is not only “unfair” but a violation of American law.
The recommendations by the Knesset committee were issued in Jerusalem three weeks ago. The committee defined yordim as Israelis who have settled overseas permanently or who lived away from Israel for more than five years.
SAYS RECOMMENDATIONS ARE TOO HARSH
“The recommendations are much too strong and too harsh and will not solve the problem of yordim,” Charlotte Jacobson, chairman of the World Zionist Organization-American Section, claimed. The committee’s recommendations called specifically on the WZO not to employ yordim in its educational institutions.
Mrs. Jacobson said, in that connection, that there aren’t any yordim in WZO institutions and that the teachers employed by her organizations are shlichim (emissaries) from Israel.
She pointed out, however, that Jewish communities and Jewish centers across the United States employ Israelis as Hebrew teachers. As to the recommendation to fire yordim, Mrs. Jacobson said that American Jewish organizations are bound by U.S. law that prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of race or national origin. “And that means you can’t refuse to hire or fire a yored, ” she said.
“Most of us feel,” Mrs. Jacobson stressed, “that instead of talking of yordim we should talk of yerida,” and how to prevent it.
UJA LEADERS ASTOUNDED
In its recommendations, the committee asked the United Jewish Appeal to abolish immediately its “Israeli Department,” which the recommendations said, is active among Israelis living in the United States.
“The UJA has no national program or fundraising among yordim in the U.S., “a spokesman for the UJA said, claiming that leaders of the organization were “astounded” to read that they have an “Israeli Department.”
The UJA spokesman also claimed that the organization does not emply yordim. The only Israelis working at the UJA, he said, are security guards who are students at American universities and are employed at the UJA on a temporary basis.
Rabbi Joseph Sternstein, president of the American Zionist Federation, said that he does not believe that any Zionist organization will go along with the “blanket recommendations” concerning yordim. The issue of yordim “is a complicated one, and the question of firing a yored is not easy,” he observed. He said there are no former Israelis employed in his organization but even if there were any, he does not believe they should be fired. Sternstein said, however, the AZF does not intend to hire yordim in the future.
The committee’s recommendations were also addressed to Israeli diplomatic missions abroad. Those missions, however, have been practicing for some years a policy barring the employment of yordim.
This policy was reaffirmed by Shmuel Moyal, the spokesman for the Israel Consulate in New York. He said the Consulate here, like other Israel Consulates and Missions in the United States, employs only Israeli students who are in this country for less than five years. He also said that Israeli institutions in the U.S. employ the spouses of official shlichim from Israel.