Aj Congress, Azf, Gratified but Wary over Report of Head Tax Suspension

The American Jewish Congress and the American Zionist Federation welcomed yesterday’s report by Victor Louis that the Soviet Union has decided not to apply the diploma tax against Jews wishing to emigrate. Both organizations, however, said they were tempering their expressions of gratification until they had received confirmation of the new policy from other authoritative Soviet spokesmen, and until the tax was officially abrogated.

Hester Beckman, chairman, Committee on Soviet Jewry of the AJ Congress, said the test “must be what Soviet officials do henceforth, not what one Soviet journalist–however important–has predicted they might do in the future,” Moreover, Miss Beckman continued, “we are sobered by the realization that in any case Soviet Jews seeking to emigrate will still be confronted with formidable barriers. The humiliating procedures they must undergo; the loss of employment they suffer; the indignities to which they are subjected; the capricious and arbitrary rejection of emigration applications–all these remain.”

Rabbi Israel Miller. AZF president, said: “Any amelioration of the heinous Soviet head tax is a source of gratification. Having had the experience of the pre-election period in the U.S., however, when there was a temporary respite in the imposition of the ransom, we view with suspicion any action which is not taken on an official level. The tax was promulgated officially and it should be officially abrogated. Action therefore on behalf of the Jackson-Mills-Vanik amendments in Congress should continue until there is an official Soviet statement rescinding the tax.”

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