Sapir Revivals That the USSR Has Raised Exit Tax for Jews

The Soviet authorities have recently raised the amount of money they demand for each exit permit issued to Jews wishing to emigrate, Jewish Agency Chairman Pinhas Sapir revealed here last night. This was one of the causes of the steady and ongoing drop in Soviet aliya, Sapir told the presidium of the Zionist General Council meeting under Council chairman Knesseter Yitzhak Navon.

In a wide-ranging review of aliya problems. Sapir said the recent “most favored nation” pact between the U.S. and Rumania gave reason for hope of an improvement in Rumanian aliya figures; South American aliya was falling despite the dangerous political and economic situation in some countries on that continent.

Soviet aliya figures for the first half of this year were 4710 compared with 9700 during the same period of last year and over 1400 for the same period in 1973. (The figure is of Soviet Jews actually reaching Israel.) During the last month only five hundred Soviet Jews have made aliya from the USSR, Sapir said. The main reason, he felt, was the hardening of the authorities’ policy on emigration. The tax hike was an expression of this hardening.

SOME 160,000 ON WAITING LIST

The hardening had caused “some drop” in the number of Jews applying for exit permits, Sapir said, but more than 160,000 were on the waiting list, having applied in the past without success. As to the rise in the number of “noshrim” (emigrants dropping out at Vienna or elsewhere and heading west rather than to Israeli). Sapir said this was due in part to a deliberate policy of selection by the Soviet authorities. They specifically chose exit candidates considered likely to drop out and head west, Sapir indicated.

He saw some hope in reports from the U.S. and the Soviet Union’s increasing dependency on American economic help in the field of grain and other areas. The Soviet Jewry campaign must watch for every opportunity of using this dependency as leverage in its efforts on behalf of would-be Jewish emigrants. Sapir said.

He noted that next month a conference of Jewish leaders would be held (in Paris, Sept. 2) to prepared the ground for a major international congress on Soviet Jewry planned for Brussels in February. The September conference would discuss practical ways in which Jewish organizations could step up their campaigns on behalf of Soviet Jewry, Sapir said.

30,000 RUMANIAN JEWS WANT OUT

Turning to Rumanian Jewry, Sapir said half of that community’s 60,000 persons wished to emigrate to Israel. If the Rumanian government honored its undertakings in connection with the most favored nation agreement, Sapir said, there would be a considerable increase in aliya from Rumania. The increase already felt in June, had continued through July, he reported.

He expressed concern at the Jewish situation in South America, noting the political and economic instability of parts of that continent. Despite the evident uncertainties, however, aliya from there was falling this year. The Jewish Agency and the government had set up a joint committee to consider ways of tackling this problem.

UJA, UIA, KH ACHIEVEMENTS

Sapir expressed satisfaction at the results of the United Jewish Appeal (UJA) and United Israel Appeal (UIA) cash drives. So far, he said, UJA’s cash income had risen by 38 percent; $166 million had already come in, compared with $121 million during the same period last year and $98 million in the same period of 1973.

Keren Hayesod had also registered notable achievements, with $96 million in cash already in this year compared with the same figure last year (which reflected the Yom Kippur War campaign) and $33 million the year before. These figures were especially encouraging, Sapir noted, when viewed against the backdrop of the world economic recession.

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