A prominent American Jewish leader, after a meeting Friday with Secretary of State George P. Shultz, urged the Soviet Union to broaden its recently proclaimed policy of allowing Jews who emigrate to choose their new homeland.
Morris B. Abram, chairman of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry, said Moscow should allow more Jews to apply for exit permits to any country of their choice, rather than just Israel. A Kremlin official said Thursday that "It's up to them where they go."Most Soviet Jews permitted to emigrate are given exit permits for Israel, but about 90 percent go to the United States once they reach Vienna, the transit point to Tel Aviv.
Concerned about the loss of immigrants, the Israeli Cabinet has ordered a change in procedures. Soviet Jews granted exit permits would receive their Israeli visas in Romania and go on to Israel. From there it would be difficult to get to the United States because they would no longer have refugee status.
Abram said the Israeli government "has a right to make that decision" and that it would be "a travesty" to permit immigrants from the Soviet Union to retain refugee status once they reached Israel.