136. Memorandum From Helmut Sonnenfeldt of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • Jewish Emigration from USSR to Israel Increased in August

You should read the attached Moscow Embassy telegram (Tab A).2 The decline in the emigration rate, apparently associated with Soviet concerns about appearing soft in connection with the US summit, may now have ended. The August figure was 3024, compared to an average of about 2300 in the preceding three months. The eight month figure for 1973 is running slightly ahead of 1972 now, but to reach or surpass the 1972 total of some 31,000 there will again have to be substantial surge in the final months of the year. This could well happen, together with additional action on the hardship lists which are of special concern in the US. (The US Embassy has not yet registered improvement on the latter score, but it is not fully informed.)

There apparently has also been some decline in harassment of would-be emigrants, beyond the removal of the most specific form of persecution, the educational exit tax.

At the same time, the earlier trend of increasing anti-semitism of a general character continues. In my view, supported by the Embassy’s telegram and other sources, this results from the feeding of endemic Russian and Ukrainian anti-semitism by (1) the better economic status of many Jews, (2) the support Jews enjoy abroad and (3), the ultimate paradox, resentment that Jews are able to leave the USSR by the thousands.

If you should get drawn into further colloquies on this issue in your hearing,3 you must not in any way compromise our [less than 1 line not declassified] sources on numbers.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 722, Country Files—Europe—USSR, Vol. XXIX, May–October 22, 1973. Confidential. Sent for immediate information.
  2. At Tab A is telegram 10726 from Moscow, September 7.
  3. A reference to Kissinger’s confirmation hearing as Secretary of State. On August 22, following Rogers’ resignation, Nixon appointed Kissinger as Secretary of State. He was confirmed on September 22. Kissinger described the process and his first days at the Department of State in Years of Upheaval, pp. 3–5, 423–432.