Jewish Agency Reports Increase in Number of Olim to Israel

The Jewish Agency reported yesterday that 1,175 immigrants arrived in Israel last month, a 45.2 percent increase over April, 1982 when only 809 arrived. Immigration figures for the first four months of this year totalled 4,538, a 21.4 percent increase over the same period last year.

Rafael Kotlowitz, head of the Agency’s immigration and absorption department, stressed the “significant increase” from Western countries. The arrivals in April included 873 from the West compared to 584 last year.

Immigrants from Latin America numbered 309, the largest single group from the West. The U.S. provided 209 new immigrants compared to 75 a year earlier and 108 were from France which had provided only 56 immigrants a year ago.

But Kotlowitz noted that since the beginning of the year, only 107 of the 421 Jews permitted to leave the Soviet Union came to Israel. Last month there were only nine from the USSR, an all time monthly low.

By contrast, Latin America is becoming the largest source of new immigrants. There were 1,082 arrivals in the first four months of this year compared to 641 in the same period last year, a rise of 69 percent.

CONTROVERSY OVER ALIYA POTENTIAL FROM ASIA

Meanwhile, a controversy has emerged in the Jewish Agency Executive over the claim by two of its members, Eli Artzi and Asher Ohaion, that a vast aliya potential exists in Asia.

Artzi, who is Director General of the Absorption Ministry, and Ohaion,who holds the same post in the Ministry of Labor and Welfare, contend that about 20 million people in Pakistan, Afghanistan and India observe Jewish customs, and their absorption into Israel could be one of the greatest projects since the State was founded.

The two officials made that proposal in a letter to Leon Dulzin, chairman of the Jewish Agency and World Zionist Organization Executives. But Agency officials are skeptical. They stated flatly that these people are not Jews. Scholars specializing in Asian ethnology said yesterday that many studies have proven that there is absolutely no basis for the claim that the people in question are Jews.

But Artzi and Ohaion, as members of the Jewish Agency Executive, may insist that their proposal be raised at future meetings.

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