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Yugoslav Jews Ready to Leave As War Tears the Country Apart

November 13, 1991
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Yugoslavia’s 5,500 Jews, deeply attached to their native country, are becoming more amenable to aliyah as the civil war between Serbs and Croats escalates and economic hardships grow.

But despite the heavy fighting in Croatia, “no emergency airlift is planned, like Operation, Solomon,” which brought more than 14,000 Ethiopian Jews to Israel over a 36-hour period in May, said Uri Gordon, head of the Jewish Agency’s Immigration and Absorption Department.

In an interview, Gordon said 60 Yugoslav Jews immigrated to Israel last month, compared to 70 since the civil war began earlier this year and 50 during all of the previous three years.

He predicted that “the trickle will strengthen in coming weeks,” with encouragement from the Jewish Agency.

“Two aliyah emissaries are currently traveling throughout Yugoslavia, assisting a growing stream of new olim to complete the necessary bureaucratic arrangements,” Gordon said.

Two weeks ago, 32 families requested aliyah permits, Gordon told a group of Eastern European immigrants in Tel Aviv last week. He said the Yugoslav olim will travel to Israel via Budapest, where agency officials completed transit arrangements for them in September.

Until recently, Yugoslav Jews were comparatively well off economically and relatively unaffected by the civil war. But with almost 18 percent of the population unemployed, younger Jews are increasingly considering the advantages of aliyah, according to the Jewish Agency.

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