Rumania Accused of Halving the Number of Jews Allowed to Emigrate

The Center for Russian and East European Jewry has accused Rumania of halving the number of Jews allowed to emigrate annually and warned that rising anti-Semitism in that country will make it necessary to evacuate the remaining Jewish community over the next few years.

Jacob Birnbaum, the Center’s national director, made those points in testimony last week before the Senate International Trade Subcommittee. He charged that “Rumanian Jewish emigration has been slashed in half in the first six months of 1985, compared to 1984–from 1,026 to 543 — in direct violation of the Freedom of Emigration Law called the Jackson-Vanik Amendment.”

The Amendment to the 1974 Foreign Trade Act, links emigration from Communist nations to most-favored-nation (MFN) trade status granted them by the U.S. Birnbaum noted that during 1984, almost 2,000 Rumanian Jews emigrated but prospects for this year are only 1,000. He asserted that about 4,000 Jews were permitted to leave in the years before MFN was granted Rumania. MFN is renewable on a yearly basis.

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations last week endorsed a one-year extension despite a “disappointing” emigration record so far this year because it provides “leverage” with the Rumanian government that would not be available if MFN was terminated.

URGES JACKSON-VANIK AMENDMENT LEVERAGE

Birnbaum urged the Trade Subcommittee to make greater use of its leverage under the Jackson-Vanik Amendment. He suggested sending delegations to Rumania twice a year for on-site inspections and to arrange monthly meetings with Rumanian officials to review the human rights situation there in terms of emigration, religion and ethnic minorities.

Birnbaum said, “In recent years, Rumania has seen numerous manifestations of anti-Semitism which have been duly denounced by President Nicolai Ceausescu. He is now 67 and will not be able to control a potentially volatile society for many years to come. The basic insecurity of Rumanian Jewry requires an acceleration of the annual Jewish emigration rate to not less than 4,000 so that the community can be evacuated within the next few years.”

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