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Action Urged Against Lawyers Who Help Soviets Leave Israel

March 7, 1991
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

A Jewish Agency official urged legal action Wednesday against “unscrupulous” lawyers who are offering to help Soviet immigrants in financial distress leave Israel for other countries.

Uri Gordon, chairman of the agency’s Immigration and Absorption” Department, said he had planned a quiet and thorough investigation into the phenomenon. But it was prematurely disclosed by Absorption Minister Yitzhak Peretz in a Knesset speech Tuesday in which he revealed information he had received from Gordon.

Peretz, stressing the urgency of the problem, claimed that 1,000 olim have already availed themselves of the services of such lawyers, who have set up shop in Tel Aviv and Haifa. They offer to arrange immigration to Canada, South Africa, Germany and Australia, where they promise jobs will be waiting.

Many Soviet olim are having trouble finding jobs, especially in the professions for which they were trained. Gordon accused the lawyers of “unscrupulous exploitation” of their difficulties.

According to Interior Ministry figures reported by Ha’aretz, only 500 olim left Israel in the past year and have not returned. Another 500 left but records show they did return.

Gordon announced, meanwhile, that initial applications have been received for nearly 63,000 Soviet Jews since the beginning of the year, despite the Persian Gulf war, which began on Jan. 17 and ended only last week.

He said 411,507 family applications were received during all of 1990, representing 1,159,827 Soviet Jews. So far in 1991, there have been 25,800 applications, representing 62,822 Jews.

Although the rate of arrivals slowed down during the recent hostilities, Gordon predicted it would return to the prewar level by next month.

He noted that the Hungarian airline, Malev, has resumed flights suspended when the war started and that Lot, the Polish airline, plans to return to Tel Aviv on March 20.

Because the Soviet authorities do not permit direct immigrant flights to Israel, Soviet olim must change planes at various Eastern European capitals.

El Al, the Israeli airline, has been flying throughout the emergency. Now the various other national carriers are resuming service from Budapest and Warsaw.

Soviet Jews who postponed their travel plans because of the war are now ready to go, Gordon said. He predicted a gradual increase of aliyah to the prewar rate.

Jewish Agency Chairman Simcha Dinitz predicted this week that 300,000 Soviet Jews would immigrate to Israel this year. To date, the figure is 21,745.

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