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Dulzin Proposes Joint Authority of Jewish Agency, Absorption Ministry for New Immigrants

June 14, 1978
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Immigrants to Israel should be cared for in the future by a joint authority of the Jewish Agency and the Absorption Ministry as a way to end the longstanding friction between these two bodies, Leon Dulzin, the Jewish Agency acting chairman, proposed here today.

Under the plan, which is currently being considered by Premier Menachem Begin, the new authority would be headed by the Absorption Minister but the Jewish Agency would have day to day responsibility for dealing with absorption problems. The ministry would be responsible for coordinating housing, education and jobs for the newcomers, Dulzin told a press conference here.

Dulzin, who is also chairman of the World Zionist Organization Executive, is in Britain to see Jewish and Zionist leaders. He said the Jewish Agency wants to take over responsibility for some of Israel’s overseas broadcasting to the United States and Latin America. Although the Agency paid IL 30 million a year to the Israel Broadcasting Authority for this purpose, the result was “very unsatisfactory,” he said. For three years, the broadcasting staff had refused to broadcast programs during the night and an expensive transmitter, bought especially for that purpose remained unused. A report by a working committee, under the chairmanship of Eli Eyal, would soon be ready for implementation, Dulzin said.


On Soviet Jewry, Dulzin expressed alarm at the rising proportion of those who “dropped out” from Israel preferring to go to the U.S., Canada or Australia. Until two months ago, 50 percent of the Soviet Jews were still going to Israel. But in March and April, the proportion of those going to Israel had dropped to 42 and 46 percent respectively.

This partly reflected the fact that the latest emigrants come mostly from the large Soviet cities such as Moscow, Odessa, Kiev and Kharkov, and had been cut off from Jewish life for decades. Since 1973, too, Israeli broadcasts to the Soviet Union had been jammed. The only other foreign broadcasts heard by Soviet Jews were the “pro-Arab” BBC and the Voice of America “which sells beautiful America,” Dulzin said.

However, Dulzin’s main complaint was against the activities of HIAS and the Joint Distribution Committee in the U.S. in readily assisting new arrivals at Vienna who announced that, although allowed to leave the Soviet Union for Israel they now preferred a different destination.

In his latest talks in the United States with these organizations, Dulzin had warned that if the “drop-out” rate continued, the entire emigration from the Soviet Union could be endangered, since the struggle to leave was carried out only in the name of aliya to Israel. He said he would be having further talks with these bodies in Jerusalem at the end of this month, when the Jewish Agency Assembly will also be meeting.


In the last six months, the Soviet Union has been allowing between 1900 and 2000 Jews a month to emigrate. However, this had to be compared with the 200,000 outstanding affidavits which had been sent to Soviet Jews from Israel to facilitate aliya. These affidavits were being sent at the rate of 4000 a month.

Admitting that the Agency could have stopped sending so many affidavits as a way to staunch the flow of Jews who bypassed Israel, Dulzin said they did not went to take “one-sided steps.”

In his meeting with fund-raisers here, Dulzin is discussing the five-year project to raise $600 million in the diaspora to rehabilitate 45,000 Israeli families living in slum conditions. Of the $48 million budget authorized this year, two-thirds was to be raised in the United States and the rest in other countries.

Saying he was “terribly unhappy” at the state of the Zionist movement, Dulzin said the movement must be reorganized and rebuilt to resume its “central position” in Jewish life.

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