Area Students to Aid Israeli Harvest; Volunteers Will Ease Manpower Crisis
An estimated 10 to 40 Harvard and Radcliffe students are going to work in fields and factories in Israel this summer, a good number because of the Arab-Israeli crisis.
They are going as part of the Israel Summer Work Program, which sends students to Israel every summer but is sending many more than usual this year in response to the crisis precipitated by Arab President Gamal Abdel Nasser's blockade of the Gulf of Aqaba.
With almost all men and many women over 18 serving in the army, the Israelis are short of workers to harvest the crops and keep the country functioning.
Gary Bennett, a third-year graduate student at M.I.T. and a member of the ad hoc committee which has been formed to handle the increased number of volunteers, said yesterday that the committee expects to send 75 people by the end of the week. Several of the groups' volunteers have left already.
The committee has not kept an accurate count of how many students have left or are planning to leave. Bennett said, because "everything has happened too fast." The Boston group has been in existence only ten days, and as soon as a staff is formed it dissolves as its members leave for Israel, Bennett said.
In Israel the volunteers will live primarily on the kibbutzim -- collective farms -- and work in the fields. Others will work in the cities and factories. They are committed to remain through August, Bennett said, but if American citizens are evacuated in the event of war, the volunteers will also be returned.
Susan A. Kotlier '70, who is planning to go as soon as she gets her passport, said yesterday that she and others who are going feel morally committed. She said she is not going because it is a romantic cause -- she stressed the danger and hard work involved -- but a matter of conscience.