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Soviet Jews Stage Rent Protest

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A group of Soviet immigrants on Thursday stormed the offices of Simcha Dinitz, the chairman of the Jewish Agency Executive, to protest what they called the high rents at the absorption centers in which they have been living for months, some of them for years.

The protest was timed to coincide with the meeting of the Jewish Agency Board of Governors, which discusses budgetary matters.

Dinitz was out of his office at the time, touring housing projects in southern Israel with board members and Construction and Housing Minister Ariel Sharon.

Uri Gordon, head of the Jewish Agency’s Immigration Department, responding to the demonstrators’ protest, said rents at the absorption centers were still low compared to private market rentals.

He accused Natan Sharansky’s Zionist Forum of initiating the noisy demonstration “to promote his own interests.”

Sharansky, the former prisoner of Zion, was freed in February 1986 after nine years in prisons and labor camps and allowed to go to Israel, where he rejoined his wife, Avital. Since his aliyah, Sharansky has become a dauntless activist for Soviet Jews in Israel, and a founder of the Soviet Jewry Zionist Forum, which advocates Soviet Jews’ rights in Israel.

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