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Aid Plan OKd Over Objections of State Dept.

December 28, 1987|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — A little-known Jewish organization will receive $8 million from Uncle Sam next year to build schools in France thanks to a project promoted by Sen. Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii) over the State Department's objections.

A $1,000 contributor to Inouye's most recent senatorial campaign, New York real estate developer Zev Wolfson, said he sits on the board of Ozar Hatorah, the New York-based group that will get the money. But he said no one in the group stands to benefit personally.

The money, contained in a massive $600-billion appropriations bill that President Reagan signed into law before Christmas, will go for construction of schools for North African Jews settled in Paris.

The bill classifies this group as refugees even though many have lived in France for a decade or more and have prospered. The U.S. government, the French government and the U.N. High Commission for Refugees do not consider the group as refugees.

"It doesn't make any sense except that Dan Inouye wanted it badly," said Rep. William Lehman (D-Fla.). "Dan doesn't ask for much and when he has a small amount of the total package that seems to be important to him you don't embarrass him," he said.

'Hold My Nose and Vote'

"I hold my nose and vote for a lot of things around here," Lehman said. He said he was bothered that the money was earmarked for a specific group when other refugees seem to have a much greater need for American assistance. He cited the Falasha Jews forced to flee Ethiopia as one example.

"It was a lousy $8 million," said Rep. David R. Obey (D-Wis.), who added that he knew little about Ozar Hatorah but agreed to Inouye's request in the spirit of compromise. Obey is Inouye's counterpart on the House appropriations panel.

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