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Begin, U.S. Jewish Leaders Discuss Soviet Dropout Issue

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Premier Menachem Begin met today with leaders of American Jewish organizations to discuss the problem of Soviet Jewish dropouts. Max Fisher, chairman of the Jewish Agency Board of Governors, said Begin and the Jewish leaders reached agreement on two points: the need for more Jews to leave the Soviet Union and the need for more of those leaving the Soviet Union to go to Israel. But there was little agreement on the issue of dropouts — those who leave the USSR but do not choose to settle in Israel.

About half a year ago Begin proposed that the Joint Distribution Committee and HIAS deal only with those emigrants who have relatives in the United States. Leon Dulzin, chairman of the Jewish Agency and World Zionist Organization Executives, said Begin’s proposal had been accepted by HIAS and JDC leaders who were now discussing it with local community organizations.

“Some of the communities are ready to accept the proposal,” Dulzin said, but others are not convinced. So far, the situation is that few Jewish communities in the United States believe they should stop helping Soviet Jews to settle in the U.S. in order to help reduce the dropout rate.” Jewish Agency sources claimed that so far the Detroit, Miami and Los Angeles communities have agreed to reduce aid to Soviet immigrants, except far those who have close relatives in those cities. (See related story.)

The Jewish leaders who met with Begin today asked the Premier for another few weeks before giving him a final answer on how they would resolve the dropout issue. Meanwhile, it was understood that due to diminishing funds, financial aid to Soviet immigrants who wish to settle in the U.S. would be reduced. Among those meeting with Begin were, in addition to Fisher and Dulzin, Gaynor Jacobson, executive vice president of HIAS; Edwin Shapiro, president of HIAS, and Donald Robinson, president of JDC.

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