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Striking New Olim Agree to Call off Protest for One Week

September 2, 1980
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New immigrants, most of them from the Soviet Union, who have been on strike at Jewish Agency absorption centers, have agreed to call off their protest for one week to allow a special subcommittee of Knesset Aliya and Absorption Committee members to study their demands for better housing and jobs.

At the same time, the situation will also, be discussed by the coordinating committee of the Jewish Agency and the government. The strikers premised to call off their protest completely if the government and the Jewish Agency carry out the recommendations of the subcommittee.

The subcommittee comprises Prof. Yosef Rom of Likud and veteran Mapam leader Meir Talmi. Rom, meanwhile, has cabled Nissim Goon, chairman of the board of trustees of Ben Gurion University of the Negev, and Avraham Admon, chairman of the executive, demanding they dismiss Yosef Tekoah as president of the university because of statements he has made in support of the strikers. Tekoah is chairman of the Russian Immigrant Association in Israel.

Rom charged that Tekoah seemed to be comparing Absorption and Housing Minister David Levy to Stalin and other Soviet leaders when he declared: “These people (Soviet immigrants) didn’t fear Stalin, they didn’t fear Kbrushchev, and they didn’t fear Brezhnev. They certainly aren’t afraid of Levy.” Premier Menachem Begin also attacked Tekoah for the same statement and said he has no right to continue as president of a university. However, the immigrants at the absorption centers said that Tekoah is their representative and will continue to be so.

Commenting on Rom’s demand that he be dismissed, Tekoah said that even if his own Labor Party turned against him he would continue to struggle on behalf of the new immigrants. The Labor Alignment, meanwhile, has changed its mind about asking for a special Knesset session to discuss the problems of new immigrants.

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