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Jewish Groups Urged to Take New Initiative on Rumanian Jewry

Organizations comprising the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations are being asked to take new initiatives on Rumanian Jewish emigration before the July 27 Senate hearings on the renewal of most-favored-nation status for Rumania. Such renewal is dependent on Congressional determination whether Rumania is making satisfactory progress toward freer emigration under the Jackson Amendment.

In a letter to the constituent organization of the Presidents Conference, Jacob Birnbaum, director of the Center for Russian and East European Jewry, cited the “outrageous drop” in annual Rumanian Jewish emigration from over 4,000 in the years before Bucharest received American economic benefits to barely 1,000 in recent years. He noted that during the first six months of 1981 only 329 Rumanian Jews received exit visas. “This monthly average of 55 contrasts dramatically with the monthly 250-350 before 1975,” Birnbaum said.

Birnbaum contended that “since Bucharest has established an annual emigration flow of approximately 11,000 Rumanian Germans to West Germany and about 3,000 other citizens to the U.S., similar arrangements could be made for Jewish emigration to Israel to revert to the annual 3,000-4,000 figure of only a few years earlier.” Birnbaum urged that “a comprehensive strategy should include: firm signals to Bucharest that the present immigration rate is totally unacceptable; detailed monitoring of the migration flow and close follow up of individual cases.”

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