State Department Releases ‘special Report’ Reviewing U.S. Aid to Soviet Jews in Israel

The State Department has just released a “special report” reviewing in detail “U.S. assistance to Soviet Jews in Israel” including federal financing for the immigrants and U.S. liaison with Jewish and Israeli organizations concerned with the refugees.

About 10,000 copies of the five-page report have been distributed to government officials on the federal, state and local levels, to the media, academic faculties, research institutions and individuals interested in Soviet matters and humanitarian assistance, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency was informed by State Department sources today.

The report said that most of the $128 million appropriated by Congress since May 1972 to aid some 100,000 Soviet-Jewish emigres “along with the much more substantial funds from world-wide private sources have gone to assist Israel in the reception and resettlement of Soviet refugees, following a plan developed by Israel’s Ministry of Absorption and the Jewish Agency for Israel,”

POSSIBLE REASON FOR RELEASE NOW

The release of the report during a period of cool relations between the U.S. and Israel, was viewed in some quarters here as coincidental but by others as a step toward improving the State Department’s relations with the American Jewish community. The report appeared less than a week before a two-day national leadership assembly is scheduled to open in Washington to discuss the critical problems of the plight of Soviet Jews and American response to those problems. The assembly was called by the National Conference on Soviet Jewry and will be held at the Statler-Hilton Hotel here May 4-5.

The report said that during a typical month in 1974, about 7100 Soviet refugees were living in 140 absorption centers and other institutions in Israel. The report included four maps showing the location of absorption centers and other facilities for immigrants.

It referred to proposed capital construction projects, including now absorption centers at Ranaana, Tiberias and Hadera, and considerable additional housing, Medical treatment being made available to refugee immigrants will include the

Shaare Zedek Medical Center presently under construction that “will be the new home of an old Jerusalem institution and one of the world’s outstanding hospital complexes.” the report said.

It also noted that with housing “one of Israel’s most acute problems,” 124 U.S. government surplus mobile homes, originally used for victims of Hurricane Agnes in Pennsylvania, have been shipped to Israel and installed for use at absorption centers.

The report said that projects which U.S. government funds help to finance include care and maintenance of the emigrant while in transit; expansion of Israel’s infrastructure to receive and resettle presence and future immigrants; and assistance such as language training, vocational training, maintenance and other services to individual immigrants. Refugees normally spend 4-6 months in absorption centers learning Hebrew and acclimatizing themselves before finding employment and permanent homes, the report noted.

100,000 SOVIET REFUGEES AIDED

The report said that “since the relaxation of Soviet emigration restrictions for Jews wishing to move to Israel, up to the present, the U.S. government has aided close to 100,000 Soviet refugees in Israel,” It noted that immigration ranged from a low of 14,000 in 1971 to 33,500 in 1973 but was down to 17,000 in 1974 and the 1975 monthly totals to date continued at about the same rate as the last months of 1974.

The report contained no references to the 1974 Trade Act or the Jackson-Vanik amendments incorporated in it that link U.S. trade benefits and credits to the Soviet Union with its emigration policies.

The JTA learned that work on compiling the report began early this years. The report was described as the 15th in a series begun more than a year ago on various topics. The JTA also was informed that communications to the State Department from the general public showed that Soviet Jewry, aid to Israel, and the treatment of Jews in the Arab countries, particularly Syria, rank near or at the top of the subjects that have aroused the most interest from letter-writing Americans.

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