New York (Jan. 6)
Gaynor Jacobson, executive vice-president of HIAS, responding to a complaint by Uzi Narkiss, director general of the Jewish Agency’s aliya department, said today that HIAS has never employed Soviet Jewish dropouts for operational work in its Vienna office.
Narkiss told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in Jerusalem today that he had demanded, in an exchange of letters with Jacobson, that HIAS discharge “a number” of Soviet Jewish dropouts working in the HIAS office in Vienna and that he had been informed that there had been several cases in which the fact that dropouts were employed by HIAS in the “processing” of other dropouts from-Vienna to Rome had had a “negative” effect.
Narkiss said that he had been informed that in some cases when a Soviet Jewish family was debating on whether to continue on to Israel or to remain in Vienna, the family decided to remain in Vienna and then go to Rome, with the “help” of the dropouts employed in the HIAS Vienna office. Narkiss said there were three such dropouts working in the HIAS Vienna office.
Jacobson told the JTA in New York today that he had cabled Narkiss on Jan. 4 that there were two female dropouts presently working in the HIAS Vienna office, both of them assigned solely to typing out forms required by Austrian and Italian officials for movement of the Soviet Jews from Vienna to Rome.
BASIS FOR HIRING
Jacobson added that, in his cable to Narkiss, he had said that the women had been hired because of their knowledge of English and Russian to fill out the required forms based on “our desire to cooperate with the Jewish Agency so that the dropouts do not remain indefinitely in Vienna.” Jacobson said this was done in accordance with a request from the Jewish Agency, which he said was made in 1968, that HIAS act to move the dropouts from Vienna to Rome within 72 hours.
To do that, Jacobson said, there is an “indispensable minimum of paper work” on forms for Austrian and Italian officials and the two girls were hired to fill out those forms. He said that the two girl typists lived apart from the compound where Soviet Jews live during their stay in Vienna and have no contact with the other dropouts. Jacobson said he explained this in his Jan. 4 cable.
Declaring that HIAS does not process Jews in Vienna for emigration, Jacobson quoted from his Jan. 4 cable to Narkiss: “Please be assured of our continued desire to cooperate” and that the employment of the two dropouts was done “only to carry out our responsibility to move them out of Vienna quickly.”
Jacobson told the JTA that one of the typists is emigrating on Jan. 10 to the United States to rejoin her family here and that the second typist, who was hired last Dec. 27, will leave on Feb. 4 to join a brother in Sweden. Narkiss said, in his comment to the JTA in Jerusalem, that he had no authority to “order” HIAS to fire the dropouts but that he expressed that demand in his letters to Jacobson.