The recently announced Jewish Agency plan to reduce the number of Soviet Jews who decide to settle in countries other than Israel after they leave the Soviet Union received support this week from a group of writers and university professors associated with the Zionist Council in Israel.
At a meeting with the group, Leon Dulzin, chairman of the Jewish Agency Executive, reported that the Agency plan has already had positive results. The dropout rate, he noted, decreased to half of what it was before the plan was put into effect last month. In July, for example, nearly 85 percent of Jews who left the Soviet Union did not go to Israel.
Dulzin added, however, that there has been a continuing decline in the number of Jews leaving the USSR. Last month, he reported, only 295 Jews left the USSR, an unprecedented low in the past 10 years. About 10 percent of them received assistance to go to the United States by the Rav Tov organization which is operated by the Satmar Hasidim. But Christian organizations which offered assistance were turned down by the emigrants.
According to the Agency plan, which Dulzin announced in Jerusalem in August, Soviet Jewish refugees who arrive in Vienna and do not want to go to Israel will no longer be referred to HIAS, which provides assistance to help emigrants settle in countries other than Israel, unless they have first degree relatives in other countries.
The group of writers and university professors criticized those who contend that emigrants should have a choice of whether to immigrate to Israel or continue to the U.S. Dulzin’s position is that a Soviet Jew has to be helped wherever he decides to settle outside Israel. “But I don’t have to help him get there. My duty is to help him get to Israel,” he said when he announced the Agency plan.
Meanwhile, Dulzin told the writers and professors that an ideological campaign will be launched to pressure the USSR to reopen its gates and allow the approximately 400,000 Jews who registered for emigration to leave the country.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.