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January 25, 1980 - Image 29

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1980-01-25

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.



Friday, January 25, 1960 29

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Government Embarrassed by Sharon's Negev Farm

By YITZHAK SHARGIL

matter recommended that
TEL AVIV (JTA) — The Sharon either give up the
government is in a quandry farm or resign from the
over how to deal with a con- Cabinet. But the hawkish
flict of interest involving Yom Kippur War hero has
Agriculture Minister Ariel nobody to assign the prop-
Sharon and the 1,000-acre erty to.
farm he owns in the north-
His children are too
ern Negev. Three commit- young and so far no one has
tees set up to deal with the offered to buy or lease the
I acreage. Premier Menahem
Begin wants Sharon to stay
NEED
in the Cabinet and so does
Sharon.
Other Cabinet members,
Bar Mitzva Wedding
including the two deputy
Stationery Etc.
premiers, Yigael Yadin and
Simha Ehrlich, have ex-
pressed sympathy with
o ff
their colleague and believe
that to implement the com-
mittees' recommendations
Call Barbara
in this case would be unfair.
But the government
takes seriously even the

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appearance of conflict of
interest with respect to
any of its members. The
new finance minister,
Yigal Hurwitz, divested
himself of his prosperous
dairy products industry
when he took office last
year. But Hurwitz was
able to hand over the
business to his two adult
sons. Other ministers
have acted similarly, re-
linquishing law practices
or business interests,
even those that had no
bearing on their Cabinet
duties.
For the agriculture
minister to own one of Is-
rael's largest and most
prosperous farms raises
suspicions. He is in charge
of the Israel Land Authority
from which he originally
bought the farm. He is in
charge of water distribution
for agriculture and there
have been charges that his
farm consumes more than
its legal quota.
He is in charge of produce
exports and Sharon's farm
is one of the largest expor-
ters of melons and other
products to the European
market. He is in charge of
agricultural prices, of fer-
tilizer and numerous other
items related to agriculture.
In short, he is vulnerable
to charges — fair or unfair
— of using his position to
improve his private hold-
ings.
Recently, Sharon was
accused of spending pub-
lic money on security
equipment for his farm.
The minister denied this,
noting that the security
fence and floodlights in-
stalled around his resi-
dence were the kind of
measures taken to pro-
tect every Cabinet
member.
Friends of Sharon claim
he is being hounded by
political foes because of his
hardline views and his ad-
vocacy of massive Jewish
settlements in the occupied
territories and the seizure of
Arab-owned lands for that
purpose if necessary.
Sharon's farm, which is
called Shikmim, has a long
history that dates back to
the early days of the state of
Israel when the government
was trying to attract
settlers to the Negev. The
1,000-acre plot, earmarked
for grazing, was leased to an
Australian Jewish family
who joined Israeli investors
in an attempt to establish a
sheep ranch. But the
enterprise was a failure and
eventually the 1,000 acres
and adjacent lands reverted
to the Israel Land Authority
and were distributed among
various kibutzim and
moshavim.
When Sharon retired
from the army after the
Yom Kippur War, he
entered politics. But, as the
sabra son of Russian Jewish
immigrants who had been
farm workers at Kfar Mal-
lal, he had ambitions to own
a farm. With his personal
savings and loans from two
wealthy American Jews,
the late Sam Sacks of
Chicago, and Meshulam

Riklis of Los Angeles, he
bought the failed sheep
ranch and began to culti-
vate crops for export.
The farm prospered. Its
"baby-super
watermelons" are popu-
lar throughout Western
Europe. It also raises
wheat, lemons and ani-
mal fodder, grazes about
1,000 head of sheep and
has a stable of horses. It
employs anywhere from
several score to several
hundred workers, the lat-
ter during the harvesting
and packing season.
The government now
finds itself in a position -
whether to reject the
recommendations of three
committees — one headed
by a distinguished retired
judge — which tarnish its
image. On the other hand,
Begin and other ministers
do not want to force Sharon
to resign.
One
minister
has
suggested that Sharon re-
linquish the Agriculture
Ministry portfolio to become
minister of settlements, a

Students Issue
Parsi Journal
on the Talmud

NEW YORK ( JTA) — A
journal of essays dealing
with Jewish philosophy and
treatises on Talmudic pas-
sages in the Persian (Parsi)
language was issued re-
cently by a group of Iranian
students at the Ner Israel
Rabbinical College, Balti-
more, Md. According to
Torah Umesorah, (the Na-
tional Society of Hebrew
Day Schools), this is the
first Persian-language
journal dealing with Jewish
themes ever published in
North America.
Rabbi Bernard Golden-
berg, chairman of the
executive staff of Torah
Umesorah, said thaf,; as a
result of the upheavals in
Iran during the last two
years, there are some 200
Iranian Jewish students
studying at various secon-
dary Hebrew day schools
and post-secondary theolog-
ical colleges and
seminaries.

Cabinet post that does not
now exist, or minister-
without-portfolio. But this
has not been formally pre-
sented to Begin.
While the government
ponders the matter, Sharon
keeps his farm and his
Cabinet seat. Some obser-
vers believe that the situa-
tion will be resolved by
accepting the committees'
recommendations but not
implementing them.

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