NEW YORK (Jan. 16)
The American Zionist Federation (AZF) announced today that it decided to lend its support to Premier Menachem Begin’s “compromise proposal” regarding Soviet Jewish noshrim, or dropouts, Jews who leave the Soviet Union on Israeli exit visas but once out of the Soviet Union settle in the United States and other Western countries.
Rabbi Joseph Sternstein, president of the AZF in a statement at a press conference here, decided: “The American Zionist Federation calls for the adoption of the three-point program for the rescue and resettlement of Soviet Jews. It is only through the implementation of this program that we can both preserve the Soviet Jewry movement and further develop the State of Israel.”
The compromise proposal, as outlined by Sternstein, offers financial assistance only to those Soviet Jews who out to go to Israel or those Soviet Jews with immediate family already in America who opt for resettlement in the United States.
Presently, all Soviet Jews who leave the Soviet Union and settle in the West receive assistance and financial aid from Jewish organizations. This assistance, Sternstein pointed out, has helped to dramatically increase the number of noshrim to a staggering 66 percent of all Jews who left the Soviet Union in the last year.
“The growing number of Soviet Jews who relinquish their Israel entrance visa in Vienna, and declare their intention to resettle in the West casts a foreboding shadow over the future of the movement (of Soviet Jews to the free world). The Latest evidence strongly supports the view that the Soviet authorities will use, this situation to end or Severely curtail Jewish emigration, “Sternstein said.
WARNS OF DANGER OF DROPOUTS
Noting that the issue of noshrim and the assistance to them is controversial among American Jews and Jewish leaders, and underscoring the view that Jewish emigration from the USSR will be stopped altogether if the dropout rate continues at its present pace, Sternstein said the AZF is about to launch on “educational campaign” in Jewish communities around the country to win their support for Begin’s compromise proposal.”
Sternstein also said that the masses of Soviet Jews resettling in the United States has brought about a situation “in which millions of dollars raised expressly for use in Israel have been diverted to pay for their absorption in America. This situation constitutes a double less: the trend shows that many Soviet immigrants are rapidly assimilated into American society and therefore last to the Jewish people, and funds intended for Israel never reach their proper destination.”
The AZF leader added; “While we profoundly recognize the inalienable right of every individual to freely select his country of residence, we submit nevertheless that the financial burden of resettling Soviet immigrants outside Israel should not continue to rest with Jewish communal agencies and that Jewish communal funds raised for Israel should not be used for this purpose.”