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Special Interview Kotlowitz Hopes Hias Will Reverse Its Decision on Aiding Dropouts

May 14, 1982
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Raphael Kotlowitz, head of the immigration and absorption department of the Jewish Agency, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that he hopes HIAS would reverse its decision of two weeks ago to end its experimental three-month agreement with the Jewish Agency to refrain from aiding Soviet Jewish dropouts unless they have first degree relatives in a Western country.

“I hope that HIAS’ decision is not final and I hope that it would be reversed soon,” Kotlowitz said in an interview here at the Jewish Agency headquarters. He said that during his present U.S.tour he will meet with various Jewish leaders, among them HIAS officials, and discuss with them the issue of Soviet Jewish emigration and aliya to Israel in view of HIAS’s decision.

HIAS, in its decision two weeks ago, noted that the experiment had failed in its objective of securing increased aliya to Israel. The HIAS board therefore decided to accept the recommendation of its executive committee to return to the traditional policy of aiding all Soviet Jews who upon arriving in Vienna opt to go to countries other than Israel.


Kotlowitz noted that preparations are now underway for the Brussels Third International Conference on Soviet Jews — scheduled to open October 24 in Paris — where representatives of major Jewish and non-Jewish organizations will meet to discuss ways to aid Soviet Jews. He said that Premier Menachem Begin and Labor Party leader Shimon Peres also expected to attend the conclave.

Expressing the hope that the Brussels Conference’s impact will result in increased Soviet Jewish emigration and aliya to Israel, Kotlowitz said: “We hope that HIAS would realize the importance of aliya and will be a positive participant in the Brussels Conference. It is important that at least until the Conference, the Jewish people and the government of Israel should be united on the issue of Soviet Jews, in order to achieve the highest number of Soviet Jewish immigrants and olim to Israel.”

“My hope is,” Kotlowitz continued, “that in the final analysis it will be the good of the Jewish people and Israel that would guide HIAS in reaching its final decision.”

According to Kotlowitz, the Jewish Agency never agreed to a three-month trial period set by HIAS. “The least we can ask for now is that the trial period should continue up to and including the Brussels Conference. After the Conference the matter could be given a new meaningful consideration in the light of the experience gained.”

Kotlowitz said that increased aliya by Soviet Jews will “bring in its wake the possibility that the gates of Russia would open again to Jewish emigration. Emigration from Russia and aliya really go together. They are interlocked.”

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