NEW YORK (Mar. 29)
The Hunga-rian state airline Malev resumed Thursday transporting Soviet Jewish emigres on their regularly scheduled flights from Moscow and to Tel Aviv.
But it remained doubtful whether the special Malev charter flights that had carried Soviet Jews from Moscow to Budapest to Israel would also begin again.
The marketing director for Malev, Ferenc Urban, told reporters in Budapest that the special charters would not resume. But meanwhile, officials of American Jewish organizations here were told by Daniel Elias, counsel at the Hungarian Embassy here, that the charter flights would be reinstated.
The conflicting signals appear to reflect continued tension between the Hungarian government and Malev.
As a result of the tension, Hungary’s minister of transportation dismissed Lajos Jahoda, Malev’s general manager.
The dismissal Wednesday was yet another development in the diplomatic flap that began last week, when Malev announced it would cease carrying Soviet Jews on scheduled tourist flights and the special charters.
THREATS BY TERRORISTS
Malev made the decision after terrorist threats were issued by the Islamic Jihad for the Liberation of Palestine.
That move drew condemnation from both Israel and the United States, who promptly lobbied Hungarian government leaders to have the decision reversed.
American Jewish groups praised the decision by Malev to resume taking the emigres on their regularly scheduled flights, and asked that the charters also be resumed.
“We welcome the Hungarian government’s decision to reverse their earlier suspension of flights carrying Soviet Jews from Moscow to Budapest and on to Israel,” said Shoshana Cardin, president of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry, in a statement.
“We hope that the Hungarian government will soon institute special flights that will carry even greater numbers of Soviet Jews to freedom in Israel,” Cardin said.
Malcolm Hoenlein, executive director of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, called Malev’s decision to continue to fly Soviet Jews a “recognition by the Hungarian government that you can’t give in to terrorist threats.”
Hoenlein added that he hoped “the efforts to secure additional routes will be continued, and that no one will be subject to that kind of black-mail in the future.”
Several new opportunities for new routes of emigration opened up this week, with Poland offering its airport as a transit point for emigrating Soviet Jews.
Moreover, Finnish leaders met on Thursday with World Zionist Organization chairman Simcha Dinitz to discuss a possible Helsinki stopover.