JERUSALEM (Dec. 28)
An empty El Al plane will fly to Romania on Friday to take back to Israel stranded Soviet emigrants and Israelis waiting to leave Romania.
The flight was scheduled after Tarom, the Romanian airline, canceled a flight that was supposed to bring them to Israel on Thursday.
The airport in Bucharest was caught up this week in the fighting between Romanian citizens and the security forces of the late Nicolae Ceausescu, and its radar was knocked out.
Jewish Agency Chairman Simcha Dinitz said, meanwhile, that he hoped Bucharest would be restored “as soon as possible” as the major transit point for immigrants flying from Moscow to Israel.
He also expressed hope that Jewish emigration from Romania, which had reached about 1,500 a year, would increase as the turmoil in that country died down.
Dinitz had just come from Ben-Gurion Airport, where a jumbo jet landed over 500 more Soviet olim.
They flew via Budapest, which has become the principal alternative route to Bucharest since the turmoil in Romania closed its borders and the airport was impaired.
Dinitz stressed throughout the interview that he is anxiously awaiting the establishment of direct flights from Moscow to Tel Aviv.
AGREEMENT REACHED ON SERVICE
El Al and Aeroflot, the Israeli and Soviet national airlines, have reached agreement on joint service. But it has yet to be ratified by the Soviet government.
On Wednesday, Ha’aretz reported from Moscow that a direct ocean route has been opened from Odessa on the Black Sea to Haifa, by which Jewish emigrants can ship personal effects too bulky to send by air.
The report said the possibility of an ocean passenger service between the two ports was also under consideration.
Dinitz disclosed the five Soviet cities where the Jewish Agency plans to send emissaries to promote immigration.
They are Riga, Leningrad, Moscow, Tbilisi, Tashkent and Kishinev.
He said the emissaries were presently undergoing training and would set out initially on short-term visas, probably three months, which could be extended.
Most of them will be of the “multipurpose” type, serving as teachers and community organizers, as well as promoting aliyah.
“This is the classical work of the Jewish Agency,” Dinitz remarked.
According to Dinitz, the resurgent interest in aliyah does not exist solely because the United States has introduced quotas limiting the number of Soviet immigrants it will take.
“I don’t say they don’t want to go to America,” he said. “But psychologically,” the Jews “have become disillusioned with America. The quotas came not just as a practical blow but as a psychological shock.
“They realize there are lots of lands, but only one homeland for them as Jews,” said Dinitz.
(JTA Tel Aviv correspondent Hugh Orgel contributed to this article.)