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Ex-Jewish Immigration Chief Dies

July 31, 2000

JERUSALEM (AP) _ Uri Gordon, the charismatic Jewish Agency official who oversaw mass immigrations of Ethiopian and Soviet Jews to Israel in the 1980s and 1990s, has died, a spokeswoman said Monday. He was 65.

Gordon died Sunday after suffering for months from a number of illnesses, Jewish Agency spokeswoman Deborah Lipson said.

Gordon, a member of the Labor party, rose to prominence in the Jewish Agency, a quasi-governmental body that supervises immigration, in the 1970s, when he won a following during a stint emissary to the United States.

He energetically encouraged young American Jews to immigrate to Israel, saying the fledgling country needed their education and skills to go forward _ and arguing that as Jews, there was nowhere in the world they would feel more comfortable.

He founded a U.S. youth movement, Telem, that had as its only tenet the commitment to immigrate to Israel. Hundreds joined and arrived here as a result.

``Uri believed that Zionism was the eternal and sole solution to the `Jewish problem’,″ said Chaim Chesler, the Jewish Agency’s treasurer.

Gordon supervised immigration for the Agency in the 1980s and 1990s, taking part in the planning of the dramatic airlifts of tens of thousands Ethiopian Jews in 1984 and in 1991, and plotting the absorption of the hundreds of thousands of Jews who arrived here after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

He was buried in Ramat Hasharon, a Tel Aviv suburb, on Monday. He is survived by a wife and three daughters.

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