WASHINGTON (Jul. 20)
Congressmen spear-heading legislation providing 30,000 special visas for Jews in the Soviet Union to enter the United States took issue today with the view of a Zionist leader that their bills would divert Russian Jews from going to Israel. That view was stated last week by Herman L. Weisman, president of the Zionist Organization of America, who urged that the pending legislation be dropped because most Soviet Jews wanted only to go to Israel. (See separate story on Page 3) A spokesman at the office of Rep. Edward Koch (D., N.Y.), sponsor of the legislation in the House, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today that the bill, now in the Judiciary Committee, would give Soviet Jews “another option” for permanent residence. He said “there is nothing compulsory in this bill. If Jews in the Soviet Union can get out only by coming here, there should be visas for them.” A similar view was expressed by an aide to Sen. Clifford Case (R., N.J.), co-sponsor with New York’s Republican Sen. Jacob K. Javits of emergency visa legislation in the Senate. The Case aide said however that it was realized that most Jews desiring to leave the USSR would prefer to go to Israel. Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Gerald Ford (R., Mich.) became the 118th co-sponsor of the Koch bill. There are 34 Senators behind the Case-Javits bill.