THE SOVIET JEWRY DEAL
Special to The Jewish News
The good news: 12,000
Jews may be allowed
to leave the USSR
for Israel in the coming
year as part of a deal
with the West.
The bad news: many
would prefer to come
to America; Israel
seems ill-prepared to
absorb them; and
Soviet Jewish activists
feel the deal is a
46. Friday, May 8, 1987
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS
erusalem — The Russians are com-
ing. Not the 400,000 that Anatoly
Sharansky says would come tomor-
row; not even one-tenth of that number.
But enough — 12,000 — to quicken the
collective Israeli pulse.
At least that's the figure reportedly
agreed upon by Soviet authorities, though
no one has confirmed those figures in
Jerusalem or Moscow.
After the heady rush of the '70s, when
an estimated 160,000 Jews were permitted
to leave the Soviet Union, Israelis looked
on in helpless dismay as the gates slammed
shut once again and the numbers dropped
to a trickle.
Does the latest reported agreement sig-
nify that the gates are about to open once
Probably not, say Israeli analysts. Soviet
leader Mikhail Gorbachev is likely to see
this as a one-time deal, and when the last
of the 12,000 leaves Moscow next April,
they believe, the gusher will be capped.
"As far as I can tell," says Dr. Galia
Golan, a specialist on. Soviet affairs at the
Hebrew University of Jerusalem, "Gor-
bachev has no intention of going back to
the free emigration that the Soviets per-
mitted in the '70s, mainly because they did
not get what they had been promised:'
Instead of the anticipated political and
diplomatic bonanza, the Soviets ran into
a wall of trade and credit limitations, she
says. "They're not willing to make that
mistake a second time. It's going to be very
much of a gamble all along the line."
On balance, the analysts believe that the
12,000 are more likely to be the end of the
process of mass emigration rather than the
beginning of a new wave. Unless, that is,
the — meaning the United States — can
make Moscow an offer it cannot refuse.
Gorbachev's depth of commitment to his
policy of "glasnost" (openness) — at least
as far as foreign affairs and Soviet Jewry
are concerned — receives a serious test this
week when Secretary of State George
Shultz meets in Moscow with Soviet
Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardanze.
According to Israeli sources, Shultz is
carrying a dazzling display of goodies for
the Soviets, including the promise of access
to United States high-tech development.
If the Soviet leaders do indeed go ahead
with the reported deal on Soviet Jewry, say
Israel's Kremlinologists, they will be moti-
vated by two primary causes.
Neither is connected with a newly dis-
covered love of Zion or with a belated sense
of commitment to the Helsinki Accords on
human rights, but rather with pressing
political and economic factors affecting the
vital interests of the Soviet Union.
In the economic sphere, there is an
urgent need to breathe life into the stag-
nant Soviet economy if it is to maintain
even its present minimal standards of
achievement, let alone catch up with
developments in the United States.
lb achieve this goal — or to go at least
some way towards reaching it — Gorba-
chev will be keeping a close eye on Con-
gress for signs of movement to repeal the
Jackson-Vanik Amendment and the Stev-
enson Amendment, which would open the
way to most- favoured-nation trading
status and economic credits for the Soviet
Gorbachev must also be banking on a
political windfall as a result of the deal on
Since breaking off diplomatic relations
with Israel after the 1967 Six Day War and
the subsequent expulsion of Soviet mili-
tary advisers from Egypt — the most
populous, most powerful, most important
Arab state — Moscow has been left to play
out its role in Middle East affairs on the
Its principal allies and champions in the
region now are Syria. and Libya, whose
adventures in the world of international
terrorism have brought down one embar-
rassment after another on Moscow's head.
Faced with the choice
of having to fish or cut
bait, the Soviets have
obviously decided to
The trauma of such alliances might have
been bearable while oil prices — and Soviet
arms purchases — remained high. But
Libya is today bristling with more
weaponry than it will ever be able to use
and the Syrians are flat broke.
The Soviets now find themselves uncom-
fortably allied to states which, incapable
of making war and unable to make peace,
have led them into a diplomatic and eco-
Faced with the choice of having to fish
or cut bait, the Soviets have obviously
decided to go fishing. And the expedition
appears destined to produce a handsome