JERUSALEM (Jan. 15)
Israeli officials remained discreetly silent today following the announcement of the abrogation of the U.S.-USSR trade pact, but the World Zionist Organization Executive, the Absorption Ministry and Information Minister Aharon Yariv pledged to continue efforts to aid Soviet Jews in their efforts to emigrate and to settle in Israel. The WZO Executive declared today that despite the “hardships and tribulations” the struggle for Soviet Jewish aliya would continue “with added vigor.”
In a statement issued in Jerusalem in the name of Executive chairman Pinhas Sapir (who was consulted by phone in London), the Executive appealed to Soviet Jews themselves to “be strong and of good courage….The entire Jewish nation is with you in your struggle….With united force, with great faith, and with supreme devotion we will triumph ultimately and the gates will be thrown wide open….” The statement added that “trials and tribulations will only unite and strengthen the Jewish people all the more firmly in their tough struggle for Soviet Jewry’s rights….”
The struggle for Soviet aliya had seen great days of achievement, as well as dark days of despair, the statement recalled. “In recent months we have been gravely concerned at the decline in the number of Jews permitted to leave the USSR, and at the refusals, the arrests and the harassments of Jews whose only crime is their desire to leave for their homeland….” The announcement of the agreement abrogation, the statement continued, increased this concern and worry. The agreement had held out great hope–through the Jackson Amendment–”for tens of thousands of would-be immigrants.”
MOVES TO ABSORB OLIM CONTINUE
Absorption Minister Shlomo Rosen said today that the Absorption Ministry will continue its preparations to absorb some 60,000 Jews from all over the world during 1975, despite the “bitter news” from the USSR and its implications for aliya. Although Rosen described the Russian move as one of the “lowest” points in the flux of detente, he expressed the hope that the Soviets would eventually reconsider their move, because he said, they need detente as much as the West does. Ultimately, he said, the scope of aliya will continue to depend on the absorption efforts.
Information Minister Aharon Yariv reacted in the Knesset to the Soviet move. He admitted the move may affect negatively the immigration of Soviet Jews. He called on the Jewish people to stand on guard, watch the developments closely, and be ready to stubbornly increase the campaign for free exit from the USSR, “a campaign that had already brought important results.”