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Decline in Soviet Jewish Aliya Attributed to Drop-out Rate and Worsening U.s.-ussr Relations

The severe decline in Jewish emigration from the Soviet Union this year was blamed today on the high percentage of dropouts and on deteriorating relations between Moscow and Washington.

According to Avraham Harman, president of the Hebrew University and a former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S., “Russia is not prepared for its citizens to emigrate to the West.” Therefore, the fact that most Jews leaving the USSR choose to go to the United States rather than to Israel is responsible for the drastic reduction in exit visas granted by the Soviet authorities, Harman said. He contended that “Whoever wants to see Jews leaving Russia must demand that they go to Israel.”

Speaking in his capacity as president of the Public Council for Soviet Jewry, Harman noted that only 868 Jews left the Soviet Union last month compared to 1,967 in the corresponding month last year and 4,358 in June, 1979. Ever since the beginning of this year, the monthly exit figure has been under 1,000, Harman said, with the result that the number of refuseniks now stands at 1,700 families.

The Soviet authorities, he noted, allow “family reunions. It allowed them in the case of Germans and Poles and it is allowing them in the case of Jews. But it will not encourage family reunions in the United States.” He said that lately, the Soviets have refused even to consider applications to emigrate, a new and deeply disturbing development. Harman said the cause of Jewish emigration was also suffering from the worsening of U.S-Soviet ties.

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