JERUSALEM (Jul. 29)
The unexpectedly high rate of emigration from the Soviet Union this month has aliyah officials elated. But economists are alarmed by fast-rising unemployment among the newcomers.
The good news is that aliyah from the Soviet Union is on the upswing, despite predictions of a falling-off after new Soviet passport regulations took effect July 1.
Under the new rules, anyone can leave the Soviet Union; but those leaving must now have passports. The new demand was expected to bog down the inexperienced Soviet bureaucracy, delaying emigration for months, if not years.
But immigrant arrivals reached a rate of 350 a day during the past week, Simcha Dinitz, chairman of the Jewish Agency and World Zionist Organization, reported to the WZO Executive here Monday.
About 500 Soviet Jews arrived here over the weekend and another 500 landed Monday, raising the total to more than 10,000 so far this month.
Dinitz predicted the upward trend would continue. About 1 million Soviet Jews have obtained Israeli affidavits, he reported. About 100,000 of them already have exit visas, half of them for Israel, he said.
“The aliyah potential stands at 1.5 million Jews, and we continue to prepare ourselves to bring them to Israel as early as possible,” the Jewish Agency chairman said.
He said the Polish authorities had assured him at a meeting in Warsaw last week that Poland will assist in the movement of Soviet Jewish emigrants, partly through special night flights.
Because there are still no direct flights between Moscow and Tel Aviv, Soviet Jews bound for Israel fly via Warsaw or other Eastern European capitals.
In contrast to Dinitz’s rosy picture, the latest figures published by Bank Leumi economists Monday showed a 42 percent unemployment rate among new immigrants.
Absorption Minister Yitzhak Peretz predicted there will be 150,000 jobless Jews in the country by the end of the year.