Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Israel, Jewish Officials, Skeptical over Reports of Mass Visa Waivers

October 24, 1972
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Reports that 139 Soviet Jewish families have been spared the emigration head tax in recent days–since the signing of a Soviet-American trade pact–continue to be treated with skepticism by Israeli officials. Foreign Minister Abba Eban, reporting to the Cabinet yesterday, confirmed that 35-40 families have been spared the tax, and Israeli circles would confirm only 30. The 30-40 range was reported by Jewish sources in Moscow before the Soviet visa offices closed for Friday and Saturday. These figures were issued before the report of the release of three activists (See page 1.)

Eban told the Cabinet that “Whether waiving the education tax is intended as an effort to calm world public opinion by a small gesture or whether it’s the first sign that world public opinion has impressed the Soviets enough to do away with the tax, we must reach the same conclusion, and that is to continue the fight (against it).”

(In London, it was reported that according to Soviet Jewish sources, 24 more Jewish families have had their head taxes waived, for a total of 43. But the sources said that numerous other Moscow Jews were not invited to the Ovir and presumably still must pay. In Petropetrovsk, the sources continued, one family was told its visas would be voided if it did not pay within one week in Wilna, the tax is still in effect; a Nov. 1 deadline has been set for those holding visas.)


(In New York, the National Conference on Soviet Jewry reported today mounting confusion among Jews in the USSR as some are being granted visas without paying the diploma tax while others are told they must pay if they want to leave. The NCSJ also reported that visas granted some Jews are suddenly revoked. It also reported that a man named Dubrov had his visa and his plane tickets and was preparing to leave several days ago when Soviet authorities voided his visa without explanation and he was drafted into the Army for two years.

(According to the NCSJ, Aleksander Temkin of Moscow was granted a visa for himself and his daughter. His wife, who was remaining behind, refused to allow the girl to leave with her father and the authorities annulled her visa. As a result, Temkin cancelled his plans to leave. The NCSJ said that in Kishinev some Jews are given visas without paying the fee and others in the same family are ordered to pay. Similar incidents were reported in Leningrad and Moscow while in Odessa and Novosibirsk no visas are being issued to anyone.)

Recommended from JTA