National Geographic : 1965 Mar
This time I got no puzzled look, no angry outcry, but a clear statement from a woman who believed that the future would be better than the past. "We are tired of being wandering Jews," she told me firmly, but in a voice so quiet I could barely hear it above the clatter around us. "I want to raise my children in their own country, with their own people, and with their own language." In the main lounge of the little ship I talked with Kalman Levin, whose job-Director of gists. A dermatologist. A radiologist. A jour nalist. A dentist." "And the others?" I asked. "Unskilled," Levin told me. "A month from now they'll be picking cotton in the Negev, or staying with relatives in Tel Aviv, or mixing concrete in Beersheba, or clearing land in Galilee. But wherever they are, they'll be learning Hebrew, and becoming a part of the country. After a year, they'll act as if they've been here for ten." Ashore, outside the customs shed, I watched HS EKTACHROME(ABOVE) AND EKTACHROME(0 NATIONALGEOGRAPHICSOCIETY the Absorption Department, Northern Dis trict-gave him the responsibility for all im migrants arriving through Haifa, the largest of Israel's ports (map, page 402). The Artsa, he told me, carried 299 settlers from a dozen countries: 86 from Rumania, 80 from Poland, 39 from Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco, and 62 young idealists from Ar gentina, destined eventually to found a settle ment of their own somewhere in Israel. Brazil had sent 20, England, five, Switzerland, one. From Bulgaria and France came five more. And the old man from Russia. Settlers Range From Doctors to Laborers What are these people, I asked, and what will Israel do with them? Levin ran his finger down a list of occupa tions and skills, written in Hebrew. "An architect, with an actress wife," he read. "An economist, married to a doctor. A lawyer. Engineers, three of them. Four biolo 400 White-smocked vendor stuffs spicy naknikiot chamot -kosher hot dogs-into flat pita bread, a treat for strollers on Allenby Road in Tel Aviv. Pulsing with life, Dizengoff Street sees a throng celebrat ing Purim, a festival commem orating the Jews' deliverance from slaughter in the Old Testament story of Esther. Purim calls for parties, pa rades, and the wearing of masks and hats, such as that of the baby in the stroller. Tel Aviv's cool February weath er, around 50° F., brings out heavy stockings and woolen skirts. Sign reading "Miami" advertises American fashions. as a family from the island of Jerba, off the North African coast, clambered into a truck. I liked their looks: the bearded grandfather's quiet acceptance of this strange new land, his son's eagerness, and the smile of a grand daughter as she dragged a doll after her into the truck. I asked their names. The old man was Shalom Cohen, and his son was Mordechai - he spelled it Meredakee. Don't forget them, for I'd like you to meet them again. "Who pays for all this?" I asked Levin. "In the end, the newcomers do," he said. "They sign for everything: their fare on the ship, transportation to their new home, their food parcels, even the little packages of sweets given to the children. "This gives the immigrants a sense of re sponsibility. We don't want them to feel that everything in Israel is free," Levin continued. "Of course, we won't try to collect until they are well established-perhaps five or six years from now."