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Parley of Russian Jews Ends in Turmoil; New Olim Seek Exclusion of Veteran Immigrants

August 2, 1973
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Premier Golda Meir’s appeal yesterday to recent Jewish immigrants from Soviet Georgia to join in action for the unification of Israel went unheeded. The Second National Conference of Russian Jews which was taking place in Beersheba broke up last night in an uproar and with the announcement of plans for a new association of Russian Jews limited to those who arrived in Israel after the Six-Day War.

The friction between the new immigrants and the old immigrants, some of whom came to Palestine before the Soviet Union was established, was felt from the start. The veteran immigrants from Russia, forming the establishment and handling the conference affairs, were accused by the new immigrants of being strangers to the problems of the new immigrants. The new olim demanded, therefore, that the management of the conference should be entrusted to the newcomers.

Besides this apparently legitimate demand, there existed also the undercurrent of friction between the political parties: the establishment is governed by veteran Labor Party leaders while the active group of the newcomers seems to be influenced by Gahal.

The uproar continued through the two days of the parley over the question of the qualifications of the delegates. It turned out that many of those present were simply sent to the parley without being elected or delegated by any group of Russian Jews. This involved mainly kibbutz members. The presidium–amid shouts–asked for a supper recess and then proposed to call off the parley now and resume it in 15 or 20 days.

A group of about 100 delegates of the total 400 decided to create what they termed an association of really new immigrants who “feel like us, who are acquainted with our problems.” The gloomy end of the convention was turned into a tragedy when it was learned that one of the delegates. Dr. Alexander Droos, 60, had died of a heart attack just before he was to address the convention. Dr. Droos, a former puppet theater director in the Soviet Union, was about to tell the audience about the difficulties he faced trying to establish his puppet show in Israel.

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