1981

HIAS

The Jewish Agency announces that it will no longer refer Soviet Jews with Israeli visas to HIAS, claiming that the practice of switching destinations has contributed to the large drop in exit visas granted by the Soviets. In recognition of its long-standing commitment to Israel, HIAS participates in a trial program to decrease the number of Soviet Jews opting for destinations other than Israel; however, HIAS reiterates the American Jewish community’s position that emigrants should have freedom of choice.

SOVIET UNION

Eighty percent fewer Jews are permitted to leave the Soviet Union than in 1979.
 
 

U.S./WORLD

Soviet violations of the Helsinki Accords and its persecution of Jews are focal points at a follow-up conference convened in Madrid. The chairman of the American delegation calls upon the Soviet Union to “develop a stronger faith in itself and in the inner strength of its people,” and to allow Jewish cultural and communal life to flourish.

STATISTICS

  • Jewish emigrants from the USSR: 9,447
  • Soviet Jewish immigrants to US: 6,980
  • Soviet Jewish immigrants to Israel: 1,762

Looking Back

Aleksandr Paritski, an activist involved with a program of Jewish studies for refuseniks called the Jewish Free University, is sentenced to three years forced labor in Kharkov. Moscow Jews are prevented from celebrating Israel Independence Day in the Ovrazhki Forest, but some gather at an alternative venue outside the city.

Almost every single remaining member of the Helsinki Watch Committees, established in various cities to monitor Soviet compliance to the Helsinki Accords, is under arrest.