JERUSALEM (Sep. 4)
A total of 17,484 Soviet Jews immigrated to Israel in August, and another 1,300 immigrants arrived from other countries, in what is believed to be the largest monthly immigration to Israel in 39 years.
Information on the number of Soviet Jews who arrived in the United States last month is not yet available, but is expected to be minuscule by comparison.
The figure on Soviet immigration to Israel, a 14 percent jump over the July total, was reported by Simcha Dinitz, chairman of the Jewish Agency and World Zionist Organization Executives. The National Conference on Soviet Jewry released an identical figure Tuesday in New York.
The August total brings the level of Soviet Jewish emigration to more than 80,000 so far this year, according to the Soviet Jewry Research Bureau of the National Conference.
Four or five planeloads of Soviet Jews arrive nightly at Ben-Gurion Airport from various transit points in Europe. In addition, “hundreds of Jews arrive every month from the Soviet Union in roundabout ways,” Dinitz told the WZO Executive here on Monday.
He said even more channels of exit are needed for the stepped-up Soviet immigration.
Dinitz also said that the Jewish Agency is doing its utmost “to break through the barrier hindering aliyah from Ethiopia. Neither the government nor the Jewish Agency deserve any criticism by the Ethiopian community.” he said.
Dinitz was referring to reports that the 15,000 to 17,000 Ethiopian Jews waiting for permission to emigrate in the capital of Addis Ababa are suffering from malnutrition and disease. The Ethiopian community here has accused the government and Jewish Agency of abandoning them.
Uri Gordon, head of the Jewish Agency’s Immigration and Absorption Department, said that 10 Jewish Agency officials, among them veteran immigrants from Ethiopia, are assisting Jews in Addis Ababa, along with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.
$1 BILLION ISRAEL BONDS GOAL
In light of the massive influx of immigrants to Israel, Absorption Minister Yitzhak Peretz urged Tuesday that world Jewry make even greater efforts to support “the great mission of absorbing aliyah.”
Peretz met with 50 leaders of the State of Israel Bonds Organization, who are holding a three-day conference here commemorating the 40th anniversary of the group’s founding.
Peretz told them that one of Israel’s chief concerns at the moment is finding jobs for the Soviet immigrants, 70 percent of whom are professionals. “We must take advantage of this manpower and turn Israel into a scientific world power,” he said.
Meir Rosenne, president and chief executive officer of Israel Bonds in the United States, disclosed Monday that the organization hopes to sell a record $1 billion of Israel bonds this year, all the proceeds of which would go to immigrant absorption.
So far this year, about half of that has been raised in bond sales throughout the world. Last year, the organization sold $789 million, then a record.
Rosenne, a former ambassador to the United States and France, noted that since its inception 40 years ago, Bonds has raised more than $10.4 billion for Israel, $6.5 billion of which has been repaid.
The Bonds delegation met Tuesday with Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir and also had meetings scheduled this week with Finance Minister Yitzhak Moda’i, Defense Minister Moshe Arens, Housing Minister Ariel Sharon, Police Minister Ronni Milo, Labor Party leader Shimon Peres and Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kollek, who was secretary of the Bonds founding conference 40 years ago.
On Monday, the group paid a visit to the Reading Room of the King David Hotel, where that conference took place on Sept. 3, 1950.
Present were two American octogenarians who took part in the original conference, Sam Rothberg and Julian Venezky, both of Peoria, Ill. Venezky is currently chairman of the board of Israel Bonds.
The group had a festive dinner at the president’s residence Monday evening and paid a midnight visit to the Western Wall, led by Rosenne. The group also joined in welcoming a contingent of Soviet Jews who had just landed at Ben-Gurion Airport.