1970s Soviet Union aliyah

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A Type 2 Soviet Exit Visa given to those who received permission to leave the USSR permanently and lost their Soviet citizenship

The Aliyah was a mass emigration of Soviet Union Jews during the 1970s to Israel after the USSR Refusenick ban on Jewish immigration was lifted.

Background[edit]

In 1967, the USSR broke off diplomatic relations with Israel in the wake of the Six-Day War. An anti-Zionist propaganda campaign in the state-controlled mass media and the rise of Zionology were accompanied by increasing discrimination against Soviet Jews.[citation needed] By the end of the 1960s, Jewish cultural and religious life in the Soviet Union had suffered from a policy of Soviet discrimination denying Jews the similar ethnic-cultural rights of other Soviet ethnic groups.[1]

Changing Soviet Emigration Policy[edit]

After the Dymshits–Kuznetsov hijacking affair in 1970 and the following crackdown, strong international condemnations caused the Soviet authorities to increase emigration quotas. Between 1960 and 1970, only 4,000 people left the USSR. In the following decade the number rose to 250,000.[2]

In 1972, the USSR imposed a so-called "diploma tax" on would-be emigrants who had received higher education in the USSR. In some cases, the fee was as high as twenty times an annual salary.[citation needed] This measure was designed to combat the brain drain caused by the growing emigration of Soviet Jews and other members of the intelligentsia to the West. Following international protests, the Kremlin soon revoked the tax, but continued to sporadically impose various limitations.

Increasing Jewish Emigration[edit]

During the Six-Day War, emigration from the Soviet Union to Israel stopped almost completely.[citation needed] Due to the USSR's support for the Arab states and the end of diplomatic relations with Israel, the authorities did not accept any requests for exit visas from those wishing to emigrate to Israel.[citation needed]

At the same time, its overwhelming victory in the war changed the opinion towards Israel of many Soviet Jews. Along with their increasing pride in their Jewish identity, Soviet Jews felt increasingly alienated within the USSR.[citation needed] After the war, many Soviet Jews began to demand the right to immigration to Israel from the Soviet authorities.

Absorption of New Immigrants in Israel[edit]

1972. A tearful reunion after 20 years between a brother and sister, who just arrived from Russia, at Lod Airport

In 1968, 231 Jews were granted exit visas to Israel, and 3,033 followed in 1969. From that point on, the USSR began granting exit visas in growing numbers. During the late 1960s and the 1970s, about 163,000 Soviet Jews emigrated to Israel; the majority of the emigration occurred between 1969 and 1973.

While many Jews emigrated to Israel, a number of Soviet Jews began choosing to emigrate to the United States instead. Known as "dropouts," the emigres would apply for US refugee visas while waiting at transit centers in Europe. In March 1976, the "dropout rate" was over 50%.[citation needed] Most of the Soviet Jews who wanted to immigrate to Israel for religious, ideological, or family reasons had already done so by 1973; the majority of immigrants in the late 1970s and 1980s were motivated to leave the Soviet Union for economic reasons or due to anti-semitism.[citation needed] Many were non-religious and saw themselves as Jews by nationality only, and thus they had little religious or ideological motivation to move to Israel, which they saw as a small market with fewer opportunities than the United States.

Most of the Soviet Jews who continued emigrating to Israel were those with stronger Jewish identities from the Baltics, Moldova, and Georgia, while the "dropouts" were mainly assimilated Jews from the Russian heartland.[3] Overall, between 1970 and 1988, some 291,000 Soviet Jews were granted exit visas, of whom 165,000 immigrated to Israel, and 126,000 immigrated to the United States.[4]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/23494/moshe-decter/the-status-of-the-jews-in-the-soviet-union
  2. ^ History of Dissident Movement in the USSR by Ludmila Alekseyeva. Vilnius, 1992 (in Russian)
  3. ^ http://www.cis.org/RefugeeResettlement-SovietJewry
  4. ^ Post-Soviet Aliyah and Jewish Demographic Transformation. Mark Tolts