NEW YORK (Aug. 23)
Hungary and Greece have become two new way stations for Jews emigrating from the Soviet Union to Israel.
According to Gerald Strober, spokesman for the National Conference on Soviet Jewry, between 50 and 75 Soviet emigres have chosen to travel to Israel by way of Budapest or Athens.
Until three months ago, when Strober says Soviet Jews first began to emigrate through Hungary and Greece, the sole stopping points for the Soviets have been Vienna and Bucharest.
Hungary is the second Eastern bloc country to permit Soviet Jewish emigres to fly directly to Israel. Emigres have traveled to Israel via Romania for more than a year.
In March, Hungarian and Israeli officials signed an accord establishing regular flights between Tel Aviv and Budapest by El Al Airlines and Hungary’s national carrier, Malev Airlines.
Strober said that the establishment of different routes for emigration is a natural outgrowth of the increased number of Jews now being allowed to emigrate.
He said that individual Soviet Jews are choosing these routes in order to facilitate their trip to Israel. “It’s a way of getting there in the quickest way possible,” he said.
A newly established World Jewish Congress office in Budapest has begun assisting the emigres, by arranging an overnight stay and giving them orientation talks.
According to a WJC spokesman, the “systematic emigration” of Soviet Jews through Budapest began Aug. 14 and has continued ever since.