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January 20, 1984 - Image 33

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1984-01-20

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

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Shamir Disputes Poverty Report,
Labor Unrest Continues to Grow

TEL AVIV (JTA) — Pre-
mier Yitzhak Shamir has
sharply rejected a report re-
leased Tuesday by the Na-
tional Insurance Institute
(NII) that one in eight Is-
raelis — 12 percent of the
population — lives below
the poverty line.
According to Shamir, the
poorer classes are better off
today than under the Labor
regimes which governed Is-
rael until 1977, especially if
fringe benefits and extra
services are taken into con-
sideration. The Finance
Ministry agreed with him
and accused Tami, a Likud
coalition partner, of playing
politics and distorting fig-
ures.
Tami represents a low in-
come, largely Sephardic
constituency. Its Minister,
Aharon Uzan, holds the
Labor and Welfare portfolio
in Shamir's Cabinet. The
NIT, an agency of that gov-
ernment department
roughly analogous to the
Social Security Administra-
tion in the U.S., reported
that 500,000 people live on a
monthly income of less than
14,000 shekels (about $140)
which is only 20 percent of
the average salary in Israel.
According to the NII,
these people include
200,000 wage-earners
and some 300,000 elderly
people. The latter are
without any source of in-
come other than their NII
payments, the report
said.
Dr. Israel Katz, a promi-
nent sociologist and a foun-
der and former director
general of the NII, ex-
plained how the definition
of poverty in Israel was de-
termined by the institute
some 20 years ago. "You can
use the number of calories
and vitamins required for
minimum health, for in-
stance, and when we drew
up the definition of poverty
back in the 1960, we com-
pared that yardstick with
what is in use today — and
they jibed," he said.
"The definition was any-
body earning less than 40
percent of the national av-
erage and that is the
yardstick still used and still
valid," Katz said.
While controversy de-
veloped over the poverty is-
sue, public services
throughout Israel seemed
on the verge of chaos. Civil
servants continued work
slowdowns and other labor
sanctions to protest the ero-
sion of their wages by
runaway inflation. Many
government offices and
ministries were paralyzed.
Railroad workers began a
strike on Sunday, returned
to their jobs Wednesday, but
only temporarily. They an-
nounced they would resume
their strike because the
Transport Ministry refuses
to pay them for the three
days they were off the job.
The union representing
200 garages which serv-
ice army cars announced
they will no longer accept
work from the army or
the Defense Ministry be-

cause they have not been
paid for work already
done. The payments were
delayed because clerks
employed by the Defense
Ministry are refusing to
issue checks to contrac-
tors.
Other manufacturers and
businesses providing serv-
ices to the Defense Ministry
complained that the delays
in payment are forcing
them to take bank loans to
stay in business. They say
they are being forces into
bankruptcy.
The Israeli cost of living
index rose by 11.6 percent
during December, bringing
the annual inflation rate for
1983 to 190.7 percent. The
December figure was the
highest ever for that month,
even though it was lower
than the 15.2 percent in No-
vember.
Histadrut Secretary Gen-
eral Yeruham Meshel has
demanded monthly pay-
ments of C.O.L. increments,
pointing out that the
January index increase
would probably be even
more than the December
figure as prices had risen by
about seven percent during
the first two weeks of the
month.
Economists are now
working out the C.O.L.
increment to be paid with
January salaries for
price rises during the last
three months of 1983. It
will probably be between
24-25 percent.
On Monday, the govern-
ment banned Israelis from
holding bank accounts
abroad and imposed a series
of other severe foreign cur-
rency restrictions aimed at
controlling runaway infla-
tion and reducing the coun-
try's growing foreign trade
deficit. Critics immediately

denounced the moves as in-
effective and unenforceable.
Foreign bank accounts
must be closed within one
month under the new regu-
lations. Israelis are banned
from dealing in foreign
securities, except those of
Israeli companies traded on
overseas stock exchanges.
Officials estimate that Is-
raelis hold some $700 mil-
lion worth of stocks and
shares abroad. After con-
flicting reports, Israelis
were told they can continue
to hold foreign shares, but
may not purchase new
shares.
Other measures an-
nounced were a reduction
from $3,000 to $2,000 in the
currency an Israeli may
take on a trip abroad; a ban
on dealing in gold which
applies to Israelis and
foreign nationals who use
money in Israel for such
dealings; a drastic reduc-
tion in the amount of assets
that Israelis who emigrate
may take with them.

Friday, January 20, 1984 33

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Wolf Prize
Physics Winners
Are Named

TEL AVIV (JTA) — The
Wolf Foundation prize in
physics for 1983/1984 will
be presented to two Califor-
nians and an Oxford profes-
sor for their separate ".
distinct pioneering contri-
butions in the field of ex-
perimental condensed mat-
ter physics," the foundation
announced.
Prof. Erwin Hahn, of the
University of California in
Berkeley, Dr. Theodore
Maiman of TRW, Inc:, Los
Angeles and Sir Peter
Hirsch, of Oxford Univer-
sity, will share the $100,000
prize.
The prizes will be pre-
sented to recipients in the
Knesset next May.

First U.S. Ship
Repaired in Israel

HAIFA (ZINS) — Israeli
shipyards have been
awarded a contract to repair
the U.S. assault landing
ship Trenton. The two-week
job marks the first time a
U.S. combat ship has been
repaired in Israel.

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