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Expect Heavy Influx of Iranian Jews

December 13, 1978
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The Jewish Agency expects a heavy influx of Jews from Iran and has already taken measures for their reception and large-scale absorption, the chairman of the Agency’s immigration department told a meeting of the Jewish Agency Executive yesterday. According to Rafael Kotlowitz, some 8500 Iranians, most of them but not all Jews, visited Israel during the past three months and 500 asked to remain as immigrants.

He noted that this compared to only 300 immigrants from Iran in all of 1977. He said larger numbers of Jews are expected to arrive from Iran in the coming weeks and the Jewish Agency will set up special desks at Ben Gurion Airport, staffed by Persian-speaking officials, to assist the new arrivals. Signs in the Persian language are also being posted for their benefit. The potential olim from Iran have already been earmarked for housing in Lod, Ramleh and Holon, he said.

For Iranian Jews already in Israel, the Jewish Agency and government officials have simplified bureaucratic procedures to enable them to acquire immigrant status as quickly as possible, Kotlowitz said.

Last week, a group of about 30 Jewish high school students arrived in Israel from Iran to continue their studies. They were assigned to the Kfar Silver agricultural school where a team of Persian-speaking teachers will provide instruction in the regular 11th grade curriculum. The students’ trip was arranged by the Youth Aliya Department of the Jewish Agency because their parents feared that the strife in Iran would interrupt their schooling.

Meanwhile, E1 A1 is operating three flights a day from Teheran bringing in Jews and non-Jews, the latter en route to Europe or the U.S. E1 A1 is one of the few international air carriers that has not suspended service to Iran.


Jews arriving from Teheran say their exodus was spurred by rumors that Islamic leader Ayatullah Khoumaieni, has instructed his followers to prevent Jews from leaving Iran if the Shah is overthrown. The Jews would be held as hostages for Israel’s withdrawal from the occupied Arab territories, according to the rumors. Such fears have prompted Jews to flee the country, abandoning their property which they cannot sell because potential buyers expect all private property to be confiscated if the anti-Shan revolution is successful.

Some of the new arrivals said Iranians were not paying their debts and that law and order has virtually broken down in commercial transactions. But other Jews have expressed optimism that when the present strife dies down they will be able to retum to Teheran and reclaim their property. Meanwhile, some 300 Israelis employed by various commercial enterprises in Iran have remained there although their families have been evacuated to Israel.

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