NEW YORK (Aug. 6)
A total of 4,537 Jews left the Soviet Union in July, the second highest monthly figure to date for 1989, the National Conference on Soviet Jewry reported.
Of that total, 648 Soviet Jews, or 14.3 percent, went to Israel, an increase of some 3 percentage points over June.
As many as 100 additional Soviet Jews may have chosen to immigrate to Israel from transmigration facilities in Vienna or Italy, according to NCSJ spokesman Jerry Strober.
Strober said the NCSJ Soviet Jewry Research Bureau is unable to account for Soviet emigrants who travel to Israel via Italy, some of whom decide to settle in Israel only after they have been denied permission to enter the United States as refugees.
But if the unofficial estimates prove accurate, they would indicate some success on the part of Jewish assistance groups, which have been trying to convince Soviet Jews to choose Israel over Western countries.
Most of the emigrants leave the Soviet Union on Israeli visas and then decide to settle in the United States.
The number of non-Jews leaving the Soviet Union on Israeli visas came to 1,157, according to the Union of Councils for Soviet Jews. These include Pentecostal Christians, for whom Israel has agreed to issue visas.
The July figures bring the Soviet Jewish emigration total for 1989 to 26,688. If that rate is maintained, the total number of Jews let out of the Soviet Union in 1989 would reach 45,750 by the end of the year.
The highest monthly figure for Jewish emigration this year occurred in April, when 4,557 Jews left the Soviet Union.
“We are indeed encouraged by the continuing upward trend in emigration, which has been evident since the beginning of this year,” Shoshana Cardin, NCSJ chairwoman, said in a statement.
But Cardin added that her organization remains concerned over the fate of individual long-term refuseniks, such as Leonid Stonov and Irina Voronkevitch. She said the Soviet emigration procedure remains “capricious.”