JERUSALEM (Sep. 23)
Leon Dulzin, treasurer of the Jewish Agency and the World Zionist Organization, sharply attacked international Jewish aid organizations that assist Jews who leave the Soviet Union with Israeli visas but “drop out” en route and settle elsewhere. (See Behind The Headlines P. 4.)
In a press statement this week following his return from a visit to the U.S. and Britain, Dulzin said the drop-out factor threatened the entire aliya movement. He said his view represented the opinion of the WZO Executive and of Jewish leader abroad.
“I believe we should take all possible steps to reduce drop-out figures and I do not think the drop-outs should be assisted. There is a practice, a quota of Jews the Soviets allow out–and so each Jew who drops out takes the place of a Jew who would have made aliya to Israel,” Dulzin said. He stressed that “The visas given to the emigrants are given them in order to enable them to reach Israel and the whole struggle, both in the USSR and in the wider world, is built on the principle, ‘Let My People Go.’”
NOT A STRUGGLE AGAINST SOVIET REGIME
Dulzin added, “This is not a struggle against the Soviet regime and the issue is not fleeing from Russia but the exodus of Jews in order that they may return to their homeland, Israel….” He explained that if there were free, unrestricted exit from the USSR, then the Jewish organizations would certainly be duty bound to help every single emigrant, wherever he wished to go.
Similarly, “we have nothing against” Soviet Jews who manage to get visas for the U.S. or other countries. “But when what is involved is Israeli visas to Israel, and when the pace of emigration is severely restricted, then we must insist that the olim reach Israel. To anyone who argues that this stand is not moral, I reply that I have a clear conscience, both as a Jew and as an Israeli.”
ALMOGI EXPRESSES HIS VIEWS
Yosef Almogi, chairman of the Jewish Agency and WZO Executives, who returned from a visit to South Africa this week, expressed his own views on the subject. He said that should the Zionist movement be called upon to assist Jews leaving the USSR but desiring to go to the U.S., it would do its best, but not at the expense of Jews willing to come to Israel or at Israel’s expense. He said there was no doubt that the drop-out problem has damaged the aliya movement.
Almogi, who also visited the U.S. recently, said the question of aliya from that country was being placed in the hands of the local Jewish communities, thus reducing the Jewish Agency’s burden.