NEW YORK (Mar. 21)
A ranking official of the Israel Embassy in Washington and the president of the Zionist Organization of America declared that the unprecedented influx of Soviet Jews to Israel has increased the need for greater aliya from the United States. Zvi Brosh, Israel’s Minister for Information, told the ninth annual ZOA aliya conference here that a growing American immigration, particularly of persons with professional skills, would contribute significantly in helping Israel create the conditions to assimilate Russian Jews into its society.
“In trying to provide a new life for Soviet Jews,” Brosh said, “Israel requires an effort in which every Jew from the West can play a role.” He added that while the number of professionals among American immigrants today is high (about 40 percent), many more are needed to cope with the expected swell in Russian immigration this year. Herman L. Weisman, president of the 100,000-member ZOA, who also addressed the conference Sunday evening, said that the new wave of Russian Jewish aliya has made a number of Israelis sensitive about the possibility of a disproportionate “population mix.”
Weisman noted that while American aliya in 1971 was a record 10,000, “many thoughtful Israelis are concerned that it will not continue to increase this year at a rate that would provide a balance for the anticipated Russian immigration. Weisman said he believed that the controversial resolution which came out of the recent World Zionist Congress–an action (later rescinded as unconstitutional) calling for American leaders to go on aliya or give up their leadership roles within the Zionist movement–resulted partly from a “nervous feeling” among Israelis that American aliya was in danger of levelling off or decreasing.
Samuel Wigder, chairman of the ZOA’s National Aliya Committee, told the conference that Israel should “carefully consider” any action which “could be construed as putting obstacles in the path of prospective American immigrants.” Wigder cited new limitations on mortgages available to olim and contemplated legislation which would restrict custom-free allowances on some house hold effects that immigrants can now bring into Israel. For Israel to curtail these privileges, he said, would be a “tragic blunder.”