TEL AVIV (Sep. 4)
Dr. Nahum Goldmann, president of the World Jewish Congress, became the center of a bitter new controversy yesterday over his proposal that world Jewry and the Israel Government raise the money to pay the excessive visa fees demanded by Soviet authorities from educated Jews wishing to leave the Soviet Union.
Dr. Goldmann made the proposal in a statement on the Kol Israel radio “newsreel.” It was promptly denounced by spokesmen for the Jewish Agency and the WJC’s Israeli Executive who said they dissociated themselves completely from any suggestion that Russian Jews should be ransomed. Jewish Agency Treasurer Leon Dultzin said he was “utterly shocked.” Dultzin declared, “We will not agree that Russian Jews be reduced to the status of cattle with a price on their heads.”
Herut members of the WJC Executive demanded Goldmann’s resignation. Joseph Klarman, a member of the Jewish Agency Executive and a leader of the Herut Hatzair, said Goldmann “has stabbed us in the back.” Itzhak Koren, a Labor Party MK and chairman of the WJC’s Israeli Executive said he did not share Dr. Goldmann’s view and noted that all WJC bodies were involved in the anti-ransom campaign.
WILL HAVE TO FINANCE PAYMENTS
Goldmann deplored the Soviet demand that Jews reimburse the State for the higher education they received as a condition for allowing them to leave. However, he said, “It may be unavoidable that apart from a public campaign we will have to finance the payments asked by the Russians.” He said “the payments should be made through both Jewish and international foreign loans.”
Many countries should be mobilized to influence the Russians, the WJC leader said, “but in the end we will have to get the money together and we have the moral right to demand an international loan.” Dr. Goldmann said he could not understand why Israel is not giving this serious consideration.
Dr. Goldmann claimed that he was given a hint some time ago that the Russians were preparing to demand payment from Jewish academicians and intellectuals seeking to leave, “I tried to persuade them not to do so by claiming it was not right for a great country to do that, but they said other countries did the same thing.” He said the Russians deliberated the measure for six months before introducing it.
(A report from London today quoted Jewish sources in the Soviet Union as saying that the new visa fees decreed by the Soviet Council of Ministers on Aug. 3 will come up for ratification by the Supreme Soviet on Sept. 19)