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Meeting in Washington May 16 to Deal with Soviet Dropout Problem

Leon Dulzin, chairman of the World Zionist Organization and Jewish Agency Executives, and Rafael Kotlowitz, head of the Jewish Agency’s aliya department, are going to Washington for a meeting May 16 of the Committee of Nine. The Committee, comprising representatives of the Israel government, the Jewish Agency and American Jewish organizations, is trying to deal with the problem of dropouts among Soviet Jewish emigrants. The meeting will seek to resolve the basic dispute over Soviet dropouts that exists between American Jewish leaders and Dulzin.

High on the agenda of the May 16 meeting is the recently enacted U.S. Refugee Act of 1980 which makes it easier for political refugees to enter the United States and provides additional aid for them which the Israelis fear will encourage more Soviet Jews to go to the U.S. rather than to Israel. Dulzin has urged that the law be amended or that American Jewish organizations dealing with refugees make it clear that the law does not apply to Soviet Jews who have Israeli visas and certainly not to would be yordim from Israel.

(In New York, the American Jewish Committee, in a background paper on the refugee act, stresses that Soviet Jews who arrive in Israel automatically become Israeli citizens and “therefore would not qualify under the U.S. definition of ‘refugee’ as one ‘outside any country of such person’s nationality’ or persons having no nationality. Nor obviously would they fit under the clause in the law that permits the President to specify as refugees nationals in a country where they are persecuted.”

(The AJ Committee report also notes that 3000 Soviet Jews have been entering the U.S. each month under previous legislation which allows the Attorney General to grant them parole. “The new Act continue this parole authority but transfers it to the President and outlines a detailed procedure for consultation with Congress before it can become operative,” the AJ Committee explained.)

Howard Squadron, president of the American Jewish Congress, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in Jerusalem “What they (the Israelis) are asking us to do is to repudiate the values we have always stood for and fought for.” He noted that American Jewish groups, including the AJ Congress, have campaigned over the years for a liberal immigration policy towards disparate ethnic and geographic groups of refugees. It would be paradoxical for those same Jewish groups now to favor restrictive approach by the federal government towards Jewish refugees from the Soviet Union who exercise their free choice and decide to make their new lives in the U.S., Squadron said.

Dulzin’s position is that Jews presently are not refugees because a Jewish State exists, ready and willing to welcome them. This is especially the case of Soviet emigrants who leave the USSR on Israeli visas, he argues.

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