Immigration to Israel Remains Stable but Sources Changing

Immigration to Israel in 1976 amounted to about 20,000 roughly the same as in 1975, but the sources of immigration changed somewhat, reflecting unstable political, economic and social conditions in certain countries, according to Uzi Narkis, director general of the Jewish Agency’s immigration department.

In his annual report presented to the World Zionist Organization Executive today, Narkis noted a drop in aliya from Eastern Europe, an increase from Latin America, mainly Argentina and a continuing rise in the drop-out rate among Soviet Jewish emigrants after they reach Vienna.

He reported that of 14,264 Jews who left Russia last year, 7,030 opted to go to countries other than Israel, representing a drop-out rate of 49 percent compared to 37 percent in 1975 and 19 percent in 1974. He said the drop-outs were mainly from European Russia and the large cities such as Moscow, Leningrad, Kiev, Odessa, Kharkov and Lvov. There were relatively few drop-outs from the more remote regions such as Soviet Georgia, he reported.

NO CONCLUSION ON DROP-OUTS

Narkis said in his report that the “Committee of Eight” appointed last summer to find a solution to the drop-out problem “has not yet reached its conclusion because of sharp disagreement among its members.” The committee, now consisting of 10 members, comprising representatives of the Israeli government, the Jewish Agency and major overseas Jewish organizations, concentrated mainly on the Jewish Agency’s demand that HIAS and the Joint Distribution Committee stop providing financial assistance to drop-outs–Soviet Jews who leave the USSR with Israeli visas.

Narkis noted that “recently drop-outs were employed in the HIAS office in Vienna.” He reported that his department “feeling that their employment is detrimental to the cause of solving the question expressed its objections to the move.”

(Earlier this month Gaynor Jacobson, executive vice-president of HIAS, said HIAS has never employed Soviet Jewish drop-outs for operational work in its Vienna office. He said there were two women drop-outs employed in the Vienna office assigned solely-to typing out forms required by Austrian and Italian officials for movement of the Soviet Jews from Vienna to Rome. See full story in the Jan. 7 issue of the Bulletin.)

ALIYA FROM FRANCE IS HIGH

Narkis reported that for the past three years aliya from France has accounted for one-half of all aliya from Western Europe. He claimed that “This is a result of the existence of a particularly active aliya movement in France whose members come to Israel and assist those who follow them in their absorption.” He reported that aliya was on the rise from South Africa. It amounted to 583 olim last year compared to 415 in 1975 and 432 in 1974. “We expect that aliya from South Africa will continue to grow and are planning projects to comply with the specific needs of South African Jewry.” he reported.

Narkis also reported that about 30 of the Jewish Agency’s 80 shlichim (emissaries) currently abroad will return to Israel this year and will be replaced by emissaries elected, for the first time, by public ballot. He said that about 1,000 persons have applied for posts as shlichim and those meeting basic requirements are currently undergoing language and psychological testing. Those selected will undergo a period of training before being sent abroad, Narkis said.

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