TEL AVIV (Feb. 16)
Rumanian Chief Rabbi Moses Rosen, making a reversal from an earlier statement, asserted here that the new Rumanian law requiring all emigrants to reimburse the government for the free secondary and higher education they had received, would in fact be applied to those Jews seeking to make aliya.
“Just as I announced then (last November) the positive approach of the authorities in Bucharest, I feel obliged to report … on the change that has taken place in Rumania and that the new law also applies to Jews,” Rosen told reporters.
The publication of the new directive last November caused widespread consternation among Jews around the world. The Reagan Administration has repeatedly warned that the education tax could affect Most Favored Nation Trade status to Rumania on the grounds that the new law violates the terms of the Jackson-Vanik Amendment to the Foreign Trade Act which links trade with Communist bloc nations to their emigration policies.
Following the publication of the tax law, Rosen asserted that the Rumanian government, for many decades, has made a distinction between “emigration” and “aliya.” He added that Jews seeking to emigrate would therefore be “treated in a totally different way.”
Rosen told reporters here that his earlier statement was made after he received assurances from Rumanian officials “at the highest level.” He said the Rumanian government did not collect the tariff from some 40 Jews who left the country since the tax was announced. But since then, Rosen added, he has been informed that the authorities resumed collecting the tax from Jews emigrating to Israel.
Rosen was speaking against the background of a report last week from Bucharest which quoted an unidentified Rumanian government official dismissing press reports that Jews and ethnic Germans would be exempt from the education tax. “The decree does not make any distinctions and applies to Rumanian citizens who want to settle abroad,” the official: was quoted as saying. “It’s logical and moral that all citizens reimburse society for investments made for their education.”