New York (Nov. 3)
HIAS flatly denied today a charge by Jewish Agency Executive chairman Leon Dulzin that it was obstructing the Agency’s policy of not rendering assistance to Soviet Jewish emigres who choose to settle in countries other than Israel after reaching Vienna.
Dulzin made the accusation in a report to the Jewish Agency Executive in Jerusalem last week after a brief visit to the transit facilities for Soviet Jews in Vienna. He claimed that HIAS was “violating the agreement” it had with the Agency not to extend its services to Soviet Jews seeking to immigrate to the United States unless they have very close relatives in the U.S.
According to a Jewish Agency spokesman, Dulzin accused HIAS of “fighting not to save Jews but to preserve its own existence.” He charged that the century-old international immigrant aid agency was “struggling wildly with the Rav Tov organization over the pitifully few Jews currently leaving the Soviet Union.” Dulzin characterized Rav Tov as “agents of Satmar” and “enemies of the State of Israel and collaborators with its enemies.” The Satmar is an anti-Zionist Hasidic sect which refuses to recognize the legitimacy of Israel on religious grounds.
HIAS SAYS IT COOPERATES
In a statement to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Edwin Shapiro, president of HIAS, declared: “The HIAS position with reference to the new Jewish Agency plan for Soviet Jewish migrants was established by our executive board on August 24 and confirmed by the HIAS board on September 20.
“It is unfortunate that the Jewish Agency action, presented without notice on August 17, has prove a failure. Though HIAS found it repugnant to its 101 year-old tradition to deny assistance to any Jewish migrant in need, we have, through cooperative counseling with the Jewish Agency in Vienna, worked to increase the flow to Israel.
“We, with a board of 202 American, Canadian and Mexican Jewish leaders, regret the accusations of the executive officer of the Jewish Agency. We categorically deny that we have contributed to the plan’s failure or cooperated in any way with the anti-Israel Rav Tov organization. However, any time we can prevent the success of an organization with such an anti-Israel policy, we will do so. We feel that through cooperation, the Jewish Agency and the organized American Jewish community can have strength.
“Through unfounded and often malicious statements, we can only reach an area of divisiveness instead of the goals for the rescue of our brethren in the USSR and the strengthening of the State of Israel.”
Dulzin said in his report that the Soviet authorities were exploiting the situation in Vienna to justify their closure of the gates of emigration. He noted that in recent days only “individual Jews” were reaching Vienna from the USSR.
The Jewish Agency chairman insisted that “We will not give up” the struggle for immigration to Israel and against HIAS. He said a meeting of the Council of Jewish Federations would convene in the U.S. this week to discuss “urgently” the HIAS issue.
Frank Strauss, director of communications of the CJF in New York, told the JTA today that a meeting was held yesterday on the situation in Vienna but no conclusions were reached. He said it was attended by Morton Mandel, president of the CJF; Irving Bernstein, executive vice chairman of the United Jewish Appeal; Edwin Shapiro, president of HIAS; Ralph Goldman, executive vice president of the Joint Distribution Committee; and Jerold Hoffberger, president of the United Israel Appeal.