JERUSALEM (Mar. 5)
Israeli leaders abandoned party politics to present one message to the 40th anniversary conference of the international State of Israel Bonds Organization at its various sessions here during the past week.
The message was that Israel needs the Diaspora’s help in creating jobs and housing for Soviet Jews and other immigrants, who are arriving in greater numbers than at any time since the earliest years of statehood.
The price tag was put at more than $1 billion for every 100,000 olim.
The conference, which opened in France on Feb. 26 and closed here Sunday, was assured by Finance Minister Shimon Peres that all of the money mobilized by the Bonds Organization will be devoted to the absorption of immigrants.
It will be used to build the infrastructure, to pave the roads, to construct power stations and houses, “and to make the exodus from Russia and its implementation in Israel as agreeable, as quick and as promising as we can,” Peres said.
Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, who delivered the principal address at a dinner in the Knesset building, said that on the basis of the present rate of arrivals, “we estimate that we will have to build about 35,000 housing units, 300 new classrooms in our schools and bigger ulpan facilities for thousands of adult students.”
“The people of Israel will cover the major share of the costs,” Shamir said. “But we are relying on world Jewry to make extraordinary efforts to help this great national enterprise.”
The delegates, representing Jewish communities in the United States, Canada, Latin America and Western Europe, were greeted by President Chaim Herzog at the presidential residence.
“We are confronting a tremendous and unexpected drama,” Herzog told them.
“We must rise to the challenge with all our hearts and with almost superhuman energy. Providence has vouchsafed us a miracle. We must ensure we never have regrets about how we responded to that opportunity,” he said.