Menu JTA Search

U.S. Charges That Decline in Jewish Emigration from the USSR is Result of Deliberate Soviet Policy

“The drastic decline” in Jewish emigration from the Soviet Union is the result of “deliberate Soviet policy,” not a drop in requests for emigration, the Reagan Administration charged today.

“The Soviet authorities publicly claim, in fact, that the Jewish emigration question has now been ‘solved,'” the Administration said in its 15th Semi-Annual Report On Implementation of the Helsinki Final Act. “In the face of all evidence to the contrary, the Soviet authorities claim there no longer are any Jewish refuseniks in the Soviet Union,” the report said.

The report was submitted yesterday by Secretary of State George Shultz, on behalf of President Reagan, to Rep. Dante Fascell (D. Fla.) chairman of the Commission On Security and Cooperation in Europe which monitors the Helsinki accords. It covers the period June 1-November 30, 1983.

According to the report, approximately 850 Jews received exit visas to emigrate to Israel from April 1 through September 30, 1983. While this is compatible to the 741 for the previous six months, it was “a significant decline” from the 1,286 who emigrated during the corresponding period of 1982.

About 1,500 Jews are expected to have emigrated from the USSR by the end of this year as compared to 2,671 last year, 9,127 in 1981 and 20,345 in 1980, the report said. The peak year was 1979 when 50,461 Jews left the Soviet Union.

SOVIET CLAIMS CITED

The Administration report said the Soviets are claiming that “letters of invitation received by Soviet Jews from abroad are fraudulent, the fabrications of groups in the U.S. and Israel who wish to ‘prove’ that the Jewish emigration question is still current and to discredit the Soviet Union in the process.”

There have been articles in the Soviet press “asserting that Jewish agencies in the West are no more than front organizations for U.S. and Israeli intelligence and that the deliberate efforts of these agencies to stimulate Jewish emigration by transmitting vyzovs (letters of invitation) en masse is in essence an intelligence gathering exercise.”

The report also notes that “the Soviet authorities continue to harass Western visitors who wish to have contact with Soviet Jews, particularly outside Moscow. Visiting Americans have had their luggage thoroughly searched and materials confiscated on internal Aeroflat flights where no immigration or customs regulations apply.”

The recently formed Anti-Zionist Committee of the Soviet Public is seen by the Reagan Administration as a means of developing the Soviet “line” that there is no longer a Jewish emigration problem. The report also points out that the committee’s anti-Zionist “diatribes” are aimed at discrediting Israel “and to lessen its attractiveness for would-be emigrants.”

The report points out that the Soviet Union continues to persecute individual Jews who want to study Hebrew and Jewish history and culture.

SITUATION IN RUMANIA

On Rumania, the report said that while the emigration of Jews to Israel is restricted, it is allowed largely on a family reunification basis. However, there are long delays, sometimes up to three years. This issue is expected to be discussed in Washington by the U.S. and Rumanian governments next spring.

Despite the gloomy assessment in the 107-page semi-annual report, the Administration offers some optimism by noting that the Madrid follow-up conference on the Helsinki agreements ended in September with a final document that strengthened some of the human rights provisions of the Helsinki agreement.

The 35 countries involved also scheduled a human rights experts meeting in Ottawa in 1985 and a meeting on human contacts in Bern in 1986. The next follow-up conference on the Helsinki agreements is scheduled to be held in Vienna in November, 1986.

NEXT STORY