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One-third of Soviet Immigrants Want to Leave Israel, Paper Says

Up to one-third of recent immigrants from the Soviet Union want to leave Israel, mainly because of economic difficulties that stem from the lack of jobs, the Israeli daily Ma’ariv reported Sunday.

The newspaper attributed its information to voluntary Soviet immigrant aid associations.

It reported that one-third of the 4,500 Soviet immigrants in the small Galilee town of Carmiel are contemplating leaving, their favored destination being Canada.

While there was no confirmation from official sources, Uri Gordon, head of the Jewish Agency’s immigration department, acknowledged that hundreds of families have approached the agency inquiring about the possibility of leaving the country.

Gordon attributed the newcomers’ dissatisfaction to desperation over job prospects.

The army radio broadcast comments by immigrants to the effect that friends and relatives in the Soviet Union are rethinking their decision to come to Israel because of the lack of jobs.

Many of these potential olim hold good jobs at home and do not relish the prospect of trading them for handouts in Israel.

The Israeli news media regularly carry stories of Soviet immigrant families in serious financial straits. Over the weekend, for instance, there was a disturbing account of two families living in a butcher shop in Carmiel.

The Knesset is scheduled Monday to debate increasing the level of government aid given new arrivals. The government would also extend the time they are eligible for public assistance.

“It’s not the money,” one recent immigrant was quoted as saying. “It’s the question of work. If you have no work, you are no one. If you get handouts, you’re like a good dog getting food from its owner.”

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