Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Soviet Immigration to Israel Continues to Plummet

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Soviet Immigration to Israel Continues to Plummet

Article excerpt

Soviet Immigration to Israel Continues to Plummet

Immigration from the former Soviet Union into Israel continues to sink and reached a new low of 3,360 in May. A year earlier, the figure was 16,000 and 10,000 came two years ago in May 1990. Jewish Agency Chairman Simha Dinitz admitted that signs were increasing that this is not a temporary slowdown. No figures exist on how many of the immigrants are returning to their homes in the former Soviet Union, or leaving Israel for other countries. Earlier in the year as many as 1,000 a month were estimated to be departing, officially or unofficially, with no intent to return.

By contrast, U.S. sources report an increasing flow into the United States of officially designated Jewish and non-Jewish refugees: In May, some 5,500 arrived. It is expected that this year approximately twice as many will immigrate into the U.S. to stay as will arrive in Israel to stay. The former Soviet Union refugee quota for 1992 was set at 61,000 by President George Bush.

Empty homes in the West Bank and even in Jerusalem are reported from Israel, leaving in doubt the possible justification for the new loan guarantees Israel is requesting from the United States.

Some local jurisdictions in the U.S. are meanwhile considering asking Congress for special loan guarantees, similar to those requested by Israel, to absorb some of the increased flow of ex-Soviet refugees.

Meanwhile, congressional supporters of loans to Israel are reportedly thinking of holding up the special $600 million U.S. emergency aid package for Russia and the other 11 former Soviet states, perhaps in order to embarrass the president during the visit of Russian President Boris Yeltsin scheduled for late June.

Arab-Americans Testify at Senate Foreign Aid Hearings

Thanks to Senator Patrick Leahy (D-RI), public hearings conducted by the Senate's foreign operations subcommittee on June 9 included representatives of two Arab-American groups and a Jewish peace group, along with Executive Director Tom Dine of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Israel's Washington lobby.

In lengthy testimony on violations by Israel of human rights and U.S. laws regarding use of American military equipment, President Albert Mokhiber of the AmericanArab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) told Senator Leahy and other members of the committee that the present aid program to Israel violates provisions of three major U.S. laws as well as of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

He also cited the unsolved murders of at least two Americans. One of them, Ahmad Jibril, was known to be in custody of the Israeli police before he was found shot to death. And, Mokhiber pointed out, Israel refuses to cooperate with U.S. law enforcement officials in the Alex Odeh assassination in Los Angeles, permitting the suspects to continue to live openly on the West Bank.

Mokhiber pointed out that only Israel is permitted to have U.S. foreign aid without oversight or accountability of any kind. The Israeli government is permitted simply to certify that it has spent the funds, and no USAID mission is present in Israel to supervise their use. It is a unique arrangement that, in the opinion of many specialists, is bound to lead to a major scandal.

President Khalil Jahshan of the National Association of Arab Americans and President Jerome Segal of the Jewish Peace Lobby also spoke on the same panel, warning of dire consequences for the peace process if the senators permitted any further expansion of settlements. …

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