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At the World Conference on Soviet Jewry: Kirkpatrick Rejects View That the Declining Number of Jews

March 15, 1983
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Jeane Kirkpatrick, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, appeared today to reject the theory held by many Israelis that the decline in the number of Jews allowed to leave the Soviet Union was the result of “neshira” (dropouts) — Jews opting to go to countries other than Israel, principally the U.S., after leaving the USSR.

“The reason why the Soviet Union refuses permission (to leave) vary with the seasons. One has to be able to read their minds to know which reason they are citing, and I can’t do that,” Kirkpatrick said at a press conference on the eve of the third World Conference on Soviet Jewry which opens here tomorrow. The American envoy is attending the conference as President Reagan’s personal emissary.

On the issue of neshira itself, she stated emphatically that “The right to emigrate, the right of citizens to leave any country, is a basic right and (is) apart from where they go.”

This appeared to put her at odds with Leon Dulzin, chairman of the World Zionist Organization and Jewish Agency Executives, who will chair the conference. He declared at a separate press conference today that “Israel is against neshira … Our major fight is to enable Jews to leave Russia so they can come to Israel.” He added that neshira is a sensitive subject which seems to receive extra attention when U.S.-Soviet relations are at their low points.


Kirkpatrick said, “U.S. interest in solidarity with the problems of Soviet Jewry, our solidarity with the refuseniks and with Jews who want to return to their homeland, is shown by my presence here and U.S. participation in the Soviet Jewry conference.”

She stressed her personal respect for Israel as “a flourishing, dynamic democracy” and likened it, as a new nation and a haven for Jews “marked indelibly by the Holocaust” to America when it was a young and growing country.

Dulzin, at his own press conference stressed that the aim of this third international gathering for Soviet Jews –the first and second were held in Brussels in 1971 and 1976 — is to “express Israel’s solidarity with world Jewry and more specifically with Soviet Jews.” He spoke of renewed emigration opportunities for Soviet Jews arising from this conference. “We want (Soviet leader Yuri) Andropov to renew the policy which (the late Leonid) Brezhnev followed to allow Jews to leave Russia,” he said.

Dulzin reviewed the plight of refuseniks, Jews who have requested exit visas and have been denied them. He said they number 7,000 at the present time. He said that altogether, some 400,000 Jews want to emigrate from the Soviet Union.

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