Trade with Rumania

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations has sent to Sen. Abraham Ribicoff (D.Conn.), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee’s subcommittee on international trade, recommendations for eliminating existing obstacles to Rumanian Jewish emigration to Israel, it was reported here today. The recommendations supplement testimony given before the subcommittee on June 27 by William Korey who was representing the Conference. The hearing dealt with the most favored nation status for Rumania.

The recommendations include: allowing everyone who wants to leave to apply for an application for an exit visa and eliminating the pre-application screening process; ending punitive actions, such as job dismissal, taken against visa applicants; establishment of an appeal process for those denied visas; shortening and facilitating the application process; permitting an emigrant to take his money and personal effects with him when he leaves; and reducing the fees required in the application process.

At the June 27 hearing, Korey said the American Jewish community could go along with President Carter’s qualified recommendation to extend MFN to Rumania for one more year. He pointed out, however, that if significant improvement in Jewish emigration figures does not occur during the next 12 months, the American Jewish community will support action by the Administration and Congress to eliminate MFN status for Rumania.

The JTA, in its initial report, had instead noted that representatives of American Jewish organizations had urged the subcommittee to withhold the most favored nation status for a third year pending a further examination of that country’s emigration policy.

Jacob Birnbaum, national director of the Center for Russian and East European Jewry, told the June 27 hearing that the sharpening of facilities for monitoring what the Rumanians were doing, accompanied by detailed discussions with them about the various types of institutionalized emigration harassments, were critical to future progress. Ribicoff agreed with this contention and reportedly instructed the subcommittee staff to consult closely on Birnbaum’s recommendations with officials of the White House and State Department.

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