WASHINGTON (Jun. 28)
Representatives of American Jewish organizations urged the Senate yesterday to withhold continuation of most-favored-nation treatment of Rumania for a third year pending a further examination of that country’s emigration policies. They said they were “greatly disturbed” by the fall-off of Jewish emigration from Rumania.
Testifying before the Senate Finance Committee’s subcommittee on international trade were William Korey, representing the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, and Jacob Birnbaum, national director of the Center for Russian and East European Jewry, who also represents the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry. Also testifying was Matthew Nimetz, a State Department counsellor, who urged continuation of MFN status for Rumania as a means of bolstering President Carter’s initiatives to reduce East-West tensions.
Korey said, “We are encouraged by President Carter’s intention to monitor closely Rumanian compliance” with the provisions of the Trade Reform Act that links emigration practices with U.S. trade benefits and that if Rumania’s performance is not in accord with the act in the coming 12 months he will reconsider his recommendation of waiver for Rumania.
Korey added that while the American Jewish community recognized “the extensive religious and cultural liberty which the Rumanian Jewish community has enjoyed, we are greatly disturbed, however, by the decrease in Jewish emigration.” He said that was in “sharp contradiction to the large number of Jews who have indicated they want to leave Rumania to reunite with their families in Israel.”
Birnbaum, who was asked what is wanted from Rumania, replied, “Early permission to leave for those waiting for more than a year; cessation of the varied harassments; and steady growth in the emigration flows to the United States and a reversion of the flow to Israel to the 1973-74 levels of between 300-400 monthly.”
RIBICOFF DISAPPOINTED WITH RUMANIANS
Sen. Abraham Ribicoff (D.Conn.), a subcommittee member, said he was “disappointed” with the Rumanians. He noted that while emigration rates to several countries, including the United States, have dropped significantly, it has been lower to Israel. He noted that during the last five years an average of 2800 people were able to emigrate to Israel each year and in 1976 the number was 2000. This year, the emigration rate is down by almost half from last year.
“The significant decline in emigration to Israel is very disturbing,” Ribicoff said. “Not only have emigration trends to that country differed sharply from the trends in other countries, but the decline of emigration to Israel represents a serious falling off in the rate of Jewish emigration.” He observed that Rumania’s application procedures “discourage” a great many people.