was the mass emigration of Soviet
during the 1970s to
lifted its ban on Jewish Refusenik
2 Emigration policy
4 Absorption of new immigrants in Israel
5 See also
In 1967, the USSR broke diplomatic relations with
Israel in the wake
of the Six-Day War. During this time, popular discrimination against
Soviet Jewry increased, led by an anti-Zionist propaganda campaign in
the state-controlled mass media. By the end of the 1960s, Jewish
cultural and religious life in the
Soviet Union suffered from a strict
policy of discrimination. This state-sponsored atheism movement denied
Jews the ethnic-cultural rights experienced by other Soviet ethnic
Dymshits–Kuznetsov hijacking affair in 1970 following the
crackdown, international condemnations caused the Soviet authorities
to increase emigration quotas. Between 1960 and 1970, only 4,000
people had left the USSR. The number rose to 250,000 in the following
In 1972, the USSR imposed a so-called "diploma tax" on would-be
emigrants who had received higher education in the USSR. The fee
reached as high as twenty times an annual salary. This measure was
designed to combat the brain drain caused by the growing emigration of
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.
Prior to the Six-Day War, few Soviet
Jews emigrated to Israel.
Israel's decisive victory changed the opinion of many Soviet Jews
towards Israel. After the war, many Soviet
Jews began to demand the
right to move to Israel. However, given a choice, many Soviet Jews
chose to emigrate to the US.
Absorption of new immigrants in Israel
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, followed by 3,033
in 1969. From that point on, the USSR began granting exit visas in
growing numbers. During the late 1960s and the 1970s, some 163,000
Jews emigrated to Israel; mostly between 1969 and 1973.
Jews emigrated to Israel, others chose the United States
instead. Known as "dropouts", the emigres applied for US refugee visas
while waiting at transit centers in
Austria and Italy. In March 1976,
the "dropout rate" rose to over 50%. Most of the Soviet
wanted to emigrate to
Israel out of religious and/or ideological
reasons had done so by 1973; from then on, most Soviet-Jewish
emigrants were mostly motivated by economic concerns. 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 having fewer opportunities than the United
States. There were even thousands of non-
Jews who used the opening
to escape the Soviet Union.
Jews who emigrated to
Israel who had stronger Jewish
identities came from the Baltic states, Moldova, and Georgia, while
the "dropouts" were mainly assimilated
Jews from the Russian
heartland. Overall, between 1970 and 1988, some 291,000 Soviet Jews
were granted exit visas, of whom 165,000 migrated to Israel, and
126,000 migrated to the United States.
Refusenik (Soviet Union)
Dymshits–Kuznetsov hijacking affair
History of the
Jews in Russia and the Soviet Union
1990s Post-Soviet aliyah
Jews in Israel
USSR anti-religious campaign (1970s–87)
^ Decter, Moshe. The Status of the
Jews in the Soviet Union. Foreign
Affairs. January 1963.
^ History of Dissident Movement in the USSR by Ludmila Alekseyeva.
Vilnius, 1992 (in Russian)
^ "Declassified KGB Study Illuminates Early Years of Soviet Jewish
Emigration", Sana Krasikov, December 12, 2007
^ Lazin, Fred. Refugee Resettlement and 'Freedom of Choice': The Case
of Soviet Jewry. Center for Immigration Studies. July 2005.
^ a b 
^ Tolts, Mark. Post-Soviet
Aliyah and Jewish Demographic
Transformation. 15th World Congress of Jewish Studies, Jerusalem.