Justice יולי נודלמן Juli Nudelmann
יולי נודלמן-צדק לכל Закон
יום ד', יד’ בתמוז תשע”ט
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The LAND of Aliya is facing a rapidly compounding crisis in what is referred to with traditional reverence, if diminishing conviction, as the nation’s most important task after security – the Ingathering of the Exiles.

Turning the direction of an exodus Two Jewish Agency advisers urge basic rethinking of immigration and absorption policies with respect to Soviet aliya, The Post’s George Leonof reports. The Jerusalem Post, Sunday, June 24, 1979 The LAND of Aliya is facing a rapidly compounding crisis in what is referred to with traditional reverence, if diminishing conviction, as the nation’s most important task after security – the Ingathering of the Exiles. The current Jewish exodus from the Soviet Union, the last foreseeable source of mass immigration, numbers nearly 50,000 a year. The wave breaks up in Vienna. Here more than 70 per cent of those who leave the USSR with exit permits indicating their destination as Israel, pause to reset their course, which then points mostly across the Atlantic Ocean. At least two members of the Jewish Agency’s nine-man advisory panel on Soviet immigration believe that this high dropout rate can have a catastrophic effect on the future of Soviet Jewish immigration to Israel. Juli Nudelmann, surgeon and department head of Rambam Hospital, and Victor Polsky, engineer-physicist now project manager of an Israel Aircraft Industries enterprise in Ashdod, urge bold, basic rethinking of Israel’s immigration and absorption policies. The long-overdue revision, they say, should provide for: Considerably increased scope of housing construction without restriction as to locality; Rapid creation of suitable employment opportunities reasonably close to each location; Establishment of a single, central immigration and absorption authority and careful screening of its manpower with regard to adequacy; Streamlining of absorption procedures; More careful supervision of radio broadcasts and printed information about Israel abroad to ensure not only its accuracy, but that it is presented in proper context; Similar opportunities for Russian Jews to visit Israel and see the country for themselves as those enjoyed by Western Jews – i.e., without prejudice to their choice of ultimate destination. On the last point, Nudelmann, who arrived from the USSR six years ago, believes that the special position of Soviet Jews should be taken into account. On leaving the USSR for Israel, they still have a choice of ultimate destination so long as they retain their “refugee” or stateless status. Many of those who drop out in Vienna, Nudelman found on a visit there, would like to have a try at settling in Israel. A few have done so. But the majority fear that the automatic grant of Israel citizenship would destroy their prospects of early admission to the U.S., should they seek it. The Jewish Agency has so far rejected such “temporary residency” for Soviet Jewry as un-Zionist and wide open to abuse, Nudelmann says. He concedes that many dropouts could exploit the situation for a pleasure jaunt before leaving for other parts. But he insists that with the dropout rate running at 70 per cent, and considering the false information about Israel they have absorbed in the USSR, many present-day dropouts may have second thoughts once they saw the reality of Israel. “After all”, says Nudelmann, “if such opportunity is open to Vietnamese, then why not extend it to Soviet Jews?” As for the financial costs of such an undertaking, “Well, that’s the price the country must pay.” There was a time, he recalls, when Israel demanded that immigrants live in the country a year before they were entitled to citizenship – “and the dropout rate then was less than it is now.” BOTH MEN are highly skeptical of the proposal to beat the dropout by eliminating the Vienna stopover in favour of direct Moscow-Lod flights. Nudelmann put it bluntly: “It would not doubt put an end to dropouts – and to immigration as well.” Neither he nor Polsky believe it likely that the Kremlin would cooperate in such an arrangement. Nudelmann suggests that the Kremlin is interested in the dropout, seeing in it a possibly mortal blow to Zionism, on the one hand, and welcoming the propaganda ammunition it supplies against would-be emigrants on the other hand. The dropout phenomena will continue, Polsky believes, because a certain percentage of Jews seeking to leave Russia will not come to Israel under any circumstances. But that should not prevent effort to contain it. A painful point with him is that the present government has not devoted a single cabinet meeting to the question of immigration from the Soviet Union – an important part of the nation’s “second most important task.” Polsky, a known aliya activist who immigrated four year ago, says that while the present housing crisis is unprecedented in extent, there are no serious government or Jewish Agency plans even for a long-range solution. Despite the staggering dropout figure, the remaining 30 per cent who go on to Israel represent a doubling of absolute immigration figures compared with the previous year. “They arrive here to find that the country is unprepared for their absorption”, says Polsky. Polsky and Nudelman dismiss current proposals to deal with the problem as totally inadequate. Ten thousand immigrant families are crowding the immigration centres, to which some of them had been assigned for six months as long as two years ago, they point out. Absorption Minister David Levy’s suggestion to move immigrants into flats in developments areas are “not even a palliative”, says Polsky, who claims to have made a thorough study of the situation. “In number, this housing can meet no more than 20 per cent of the demand, and qualitatively it is no solution at all because the localities involved have neither suitable employment opportunities nor social conditions.” Polsky adds that Levy’s plans start building 5,500 flats this year will hardly supply more than 25 per cent of the demand by the time they are completed in two to three years’ time. Nudelman urges the powers that be to rid themselves of the two-birds-with-one-stone mentality, which seeks to achieve the elusive goal of population dispersal by directing newcomers to development areas, “as though the immigrants are responsible for the concentration of Israel’s industry in the centre of the country. This is a job for dedicated young people fluent with the country’s language and conditions, he maintains”.

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