JERUSALEM (Aug. 17)
An Israeli official active here for Soviet Jewry suggested today that one reason why the Soviets had set such high new exit charges for Jewish academicians was that Soviet officials had been surprised that so high a proportion of Jewish migrants were in that category and that the Soviet Union could not sustain a “brain drain” of such dimensions. He said the new exit charges were “higher than any conceivably justifiable sum” otherwise.
The official also predicted that world reaction to the latest Soviet “imposition” would be far more “strident and vociferous” than even the worldwide outcry over the Leningrad hijack trials. He offered his analysis as Absorption Minister Natan Peled announced that Israel was preparing a worldwide campaign against the exit cost increases of such a scope that it “may surprise Soviet authorities.” He made the prediction during a radio interview but gave no details.
Meanwhile, Premier Golda Meir and Jewish Agency Executive chairman Louis Pincus denounced the Soviet action. Speaking at a rally marking the 90th anniversary of the Mazkeret township. Mrs. Meir called the Soviet decree preparation of “a price list for those in a slave market,” adding she thought slavery was “a thing of the past” which “existed only in such countries as Saudi Arabia.” She asked “all righteous people” to protest “this decree.” Addressing herself to Russian Jewry, she said: “Do not be discouraged. Your wish for freedom is your secret weapon.”
Pincus, in a statement, made a similar appeal to “all men of conscience in the world” to protest the Soviet plan which he said was one to “impose ransom payments of thousands of rubles upon Jewish academicians wishing to emigrate to Israel.” Pincus said the higher levies were “a continuation of the arbitrary measures that Soviet Russia has taken to frighten Jews in Russia who are fighting for the right to emigrate.” He cited imprisonment of Jewish activists, refusals to grant exit visas and interference with Israeli radio broadcasts.
“The Jewish people the world over stands side by side with the Jews in Russia in this struggle,” he declared. “The Jewish communities and organizations will not rest until these decrees are abolished and the Jews allowed to emigrate to Israel. On behalf of the Jewish Agency Executive, I commit myself once again that we shall do everything for their full absorption in Israel.”
Prof. Yuval Neeman, president of Tel Aviv University and chairman of a newly-formed Israel Committee for Soviet Jewish Scientists, confirmed reports he would leave soon for the United States to bring American scientific groups into the worldwide protest. Prof, Neeman said in a radio interview that public opinion would work against the Russians because they “want to maintain contact with the scientific world” and that “they would be the first to suffer if that contact was broken off.” He said he was confident that his fellow scientists would join the protest because they understood “the need” to preserve the right of scientists to work wherever they chose.