Jewish Agency Head Blasts Government for Its ‘failure’ to Absorb Immigrants

Jewish Agency Chairman Simcha Dinitz blasted the government Monday for not doing its job with respect to immigrant absorption.

“After long months in which the waves of immigration get larger and the Jewish Agency fulfills its mission by bringing over immigrants and expanding the routes of aliyah, the government is still not prepared for absorption,” Dinitz charged at the weekly meeting of the World Zionist Organization Executive, which he also chairs.

Dinitz said the government demonstrated its “failure in coping with immigration” by the fact that “until today, not one mobile home was imported, not one house was built.”

“Plans adopted by the government have not been implemented, and this may affect the continuation of aliyah,” he warned.

Housing Minister Ariel Sharon informed the Cabinet on Sunday that the first 1,000 imported homes authorized by the government will arrive within two months and that another 4,000 will be here by the end of the year.

The government also has authorized the construction of 45,000 apartments, mostly in Galilee and the Negev.

It has initially allocated $500 million to build or import prefabricated housing.

Dinitz, who belongs to the opposition Labor Party, chided Cabinet members for appealing to world Jewry to contribute more for aliyah.

TRACTORS AS DECORATIONS

He was referring to Absorption Minister Yitzhak Peretz and Deputy Minister Geula Cohen, who claimed Sunday that the Jewish Agency was not doing enough to raise funds for aliyah and that therefore the government should take over the task.

The Jewish Agency is the chief beneficiary of funds raised in the United States by the United Jewish Appeal and elsewhere by Keren Hayesod.

“One cannot search for an alibi to cover the government’s failure to cope with housing and employment for immigrants by finding fault with the contributions of the Jewish people,” Dinitz said.

In fact, world Jewry increased its pledges for absorption by 300 percent this year, the Jewish Agency chairman said.

Dinitz expressed confidence that Diaspora Jewry would continue to expand its contributions as long as the Israeli government fulfills its own obligations and implements its immigrant absorption plans.

He said that about six months ago, visiting Jewish leaders were taken on a tour of construction sites.

“Podiums were erected with flags, choirs, speeches and even tractors, which were placed in the area as decorations,” the Jewish Agency chairman recalled.

“Several months later,” he said, “the Jewish leaders returned to those sites to see the new neighborhoods, only to find out that nothing was done.

“Even the tractors had disappeared,” Dinitz said, adding, “This is not the way to recruit the Jewish people, nor Israeli society.”

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