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COMPARISON WITH CZARIST RUSSIA
There is an enormous sensitivity and a great fear that the Soviet Union might be compared with Czarist Russia and that the comparison would come out, while not in favor of Czarist Russia, so in any case as proving that the traditions of Czarist Russia with regard to persecution of the Jews were continued by the Soviet Government.
So the Soviet Union is extremely sensitive on this issue, and what is necessary from our point of view is to approach this problem in such a tactful and subtle way as to maximize the moral impact any step we take may have upon the Soviet Union and minimize the possibility of the Soviet Union being offended and going back to the exact opposite of what we want it to do.
In this context let me also say in conclusion that the resolutions before
you, I think, are all to the good. I would not, however, overemphasize the United Nations, of which I think neither our Government nor that of the Soviet Union has too high an opinion. I would not suggest to exclude the United Nations, but I think much more important are bilateral presentations to the Soviet Union. After all, the Soviet Union has shown what I regard to be a genuine interest in the improvement of its relations with the United States. If our representatives tell the Soviet representatives that here is an obstacle to such improvement, that here is a way in which the Soviet Union can easily and without sacrificing its interests accommodate the United States, I think there is a very good chance that the purposes of these resolutions of your subcommittee will be achieved.
Thank you very much, sir.
Mr. ROSENTHAL. If you were the President of the United States, how serious would you judge this problem? In other words, you say we should tell the Soviet Union this is an obstacle to positive negotiations. How serious an obstacle?
A PRAGMATIC PROBLEM
Mr. MORGENTHAU. If I may play the role of the President of the United States, I would say to Mr. Kosygin or Mr. Brezhnev, "I can go only so far and no farther in view of public opinion. I am the head of a democratic country.” I might even say, “I want to be reelected," as Mr. Roosevelt used to say to Mr. Stalin, "The Polish vote is so important to me.” So I could say if I were the President of the United States, "I have to accommodate public opinion, and here is one problem among others which makes it very difficult for me to present to my people a program which aims at the improvement of our relations with the Soviet Union."
Mr. ROSENTHAL. Could not the President add that, in addition to reelection of pragmatic political considerations, that freedom denied anywhere is freedom denied everywhere, and that the tenets we adhere toare derived from the Declaration of Independence and our people are rightly concerned about denial of freedom anywhere in the world?
Mr. MORGENTHAU. You could say that. I don't know how impressed the Soviet representatives would be. If you say we are a moralistic country, perhaps Mr. Brezhnev would say, "That is your problem." I would rather put it on a more pragmatic basis, which is perfectly intelligible to the Soviet representatives.
Mr. ROSENTHAL. You mentioned a newspaper story regarding the absence of terror in the Jewish community in the Soviet Union. A witness today, an emigrant from the Soviet Union, testified that it is not only the denial of religious fulfillment that Jews experience but the denial of college education, of opportunities in housing, and employment.
Could you define these privations as a lifestyle of terror! Mr. MORGENTHAU. Well, you see, there are different kinds of terror. We remember the McCarthy era. There was a kind of terror which kept many of us silent, and I think of my teaching experience in the fifties when I would raise a question about recognition of Communist China in a class and there was dead silence. Nobody would dare to open his mouth. This was a kind of terror.
ANOTHER KIND OF TERROR
There is a psychological and moral terror which may be as damaging, as destructive to human personalities as physical terror. Furthermore, what you have said, Mr. Chairman, and what you have quoted from the witness is, of course. entirely correct. Especially those Soviet Jews who show a Jewish consciousness are very forcibly reminded of the wrongness of their ways.
They may lose their jobs. Members of their families may lose their jobs. They may lose their apartments. They may not be allowed to stay in a particular city where they live and have to go elsewhere. They become extinguished as a person enjoying the rights and privileges of Soviet citizens. Let me add one point which comes to mind.
Mr. ROSENTHAL. Regardless of whether he is religious or not, the testimony before the subcommittee is that every person born a Jew has that fact noted in his passport. That is his nationality and the prerogatives of his lifestyle are inhibited by that definition.
Mr. MORGENTHAU. This is correct. Let me give you an example which comes to mind. We would recognize, I guess, that the use and teaching of the Hebrew language is one of the basic prerequisites of Jewish culture.
The last Hebrew book published in the Soviet Union was published in 1928, 43 years ago, which shows in one striking example an all-out attack against the survival of Jewish culture in the Soviet Union.
Mr. ROSENTHAL. Mr. Findler.
Mr. FINDLEY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. When you said that your classes in the 1950's greeted your comments about diplomatic relations with Communist China with silence, that reminded me of my own experience in 1967 when I first proposed the same thing. The reaction I got here among my colleagues and back home was not silence. It was rather deafening.
Mr. MORGENTHAU. Of course, you were not in such a position of authority as I was in the classroom.
Mr. FINDLEY. Maybe there is an important distinction there. Doctor, how would you compare the state of Jewry in Russia today to that in the early part of the century under the czars?
Mr. MORGENTHAU. It is very difficult to make such a comparison, as it is difficult to make a comparison between the conditions of the Soviet Jews and the Jews under the Nazi regime, because they are so entirely different.
First of all, under the czars, you had strict limitations of settlement. You had territories within which Jews could settle but within those settlements you had a degree of autonomy and you had a flourishing Jewish life and culture, which is an enormous difference to the conditions of the Jews at present.
FREEDOM OF INTERNAL TRAVEL
So there is one great advantage, that Jews are no longer limited to a particular territory. But there is another enormous disadvantage that they can no longer lead an organized and dynamic religious and cultural life.
Mr. FINDLEY. On page 2 of House Concurrent Resolution 390 is an item under subsection 1 which reads as follows:
Call upon the Soviet Government to permit the free expression of ideas and exercise of religion by all of its citizens in accordance with the Soviet Constitution.
Is there any improvement you would suggest in that language ? Mr. MORGENTHAU. The language is sweeping and essentially Utopian. This is not going to happen and this cannot happen because of the totalitarian nature of the Soviet regime; for it is inherent in a totalitarian regime that it claims to be the source of all truth and all virtue.
Marx and Lenin are the secular gods of the Soviet Union and there can't be any gods beside them. So any religion, any other worldly orderly religion is a challenge to the very moral and intellectual foundations of such a totalitarian regime. This is especially true of Judaism which has a prophetic component: The prophets confront the powers that be in the name of a higher law.
Mr. FINDLEY. Do you think House Concurrent Resolution 319 should be passed by the House without change?
Mr. MORGENTHAU. If I had to rewrite it, I would leave that out. I would limit myself to the concrete pragmatic proposition and not challenge the regime as such by asking it to do something which by its very nature it cannot do.
Mr. FINDLEY. It struck me that the resolution would be more in conformity with the very reasonable thoughts that you presented in your prepared statement if the words “free expression of ideas” were eliminated. That would still leave the call to permit the exercise of religion which, I suppose, encompasses the possibility of free expression of ideas and yet would be a little less abrasive to the Soviets.
Mr. MORGENTHAU. That is right. I would refrain from challenging the regime intellectually by putting up against it a counter-regime which simply is unacceptable to them.
Mr. FINDLEY. The No. 2 item says:
Utilize formal and informal contacts with Soviet officials in an effort to secure an end to discrimination against the religious minorities.
Would that be worth retaining!
Mr. MORGENTHAU. I think there is something to be said in favor of that because, you see, the Soviet Government could easily grant and does already grant to a certain extent the proposal without damaging
its own interests. I think this is rather innocuous but less objectionable than the first statement you referto.
Mr. FINDLEY. I don't wish to attempt to put words in your mouth, but would you recommend that we adjust the resolution to retain only subsection 2 out of the four enumerated there?
EXPRESSING TRADITIONAL BELIEFS
Mr. ROSENTHAL. I would respectfully disagree with you on subsection 1 on matters of high principle. I am as aware as you are of limitations on religious exercise in the Soviet Union. But when this congress writes a resolution, we have to consider the motivations of the American people. We have to begin with our traditional beliefs in the right of religion. We can't scale down congressional action to meet the situation that we are trying to deal with.
I understand your pragmatic point of view, but if we were going to do that with some of our Vietnamese resolutions, we would have to come down to the lowest common denominator which was pretty low. It becomes very unpleasant for us to sacrifice our principles.
Mr. MORGENTHAU. Mr. Chairman, I fully appreciate and understand your position and I can see that you have to take into account the sensibilities of your colleagues and of the American people. But I can only say if you deal with the anticipated reaction of the Soviet Government alone, this is going to rub them the wrong way.
Mr. ROSENTHAL. From my experience, any resolution we report out, regardless of its exact language, if it deals with the subject of Soviet Jewry, will have an impact on them. Resolutions reported in the press never get to the details. They are reported by their diplomats. Any resolution we report out will have an impact and so we have to be genuinely bound by our moral consciousness in reporting these things out.
Mr. MORGENTHAU. I understand that.
Mr. FINDLEY. Do you have any further comments about the four items there? If you were redrafting, which of those would you retain?
ACCEPTING THE LANGUAGE
Mr. MORGENTHAU. No, I think Nos. 3 and 4 are perfectly all right. So is No. 2. And considering what the chairman has just said, I would guess that No. 1 has to be all right, too.
Mr. FINDLEY. I can see we have a very persuasive chairman.
Mr. ROSENTHAL. Because I feel strongly about it and I believe it sincerely and intellectually that we can't cut back our objectives simply because they have. We have to state the great broad principle we believe in. If they are going to be offended, they will be offended by 1, 2, 3, or 4.
Mr. MORGENTHAU. Of course, you have to strike a balance between minimizing the offense and maximizing the moral impact you want to have.
Mr. ROSENTHAL. Let me assure you of one thing, when the subcommittee meets there will be no violence.
Mr. MORGENTHAU. I am glad to hear that. I didn't anticipate any.
Mr. ROSENTHAL. Thank you very much. Let me say we are enormously grateful for your presentation and for your words of wisdom and I personally want to express my appreciation for all you have done in other areas of foreign policy over these many years.
Mr. FINDLEY. Will the gentleman yield ? I want to join in the same comment about Mr. Morgenthau's great contributions and to suggest that perhaps the real thrust of his prepared statement was to the executive branch rather than to the legislative branch. We can speak in little more harsh terms perhaps than we would expect the executive branch to use.
Mr. ROSENTHAL. I think that is a point the three of us could agree on, right. I agree with that point.
Our next witness is Dr. William Korey, Director, New York Bureau of the B'nai B'rith International Council. You may proceed, Dr. Korey.
STATEMENT OF WILLIAM KOREY, B'NAI B’RITH INTERNATIONAL
B.A., University of Chicago; M.A. and Ph. D., Columbia University, graduate Columbia University Russian Institute. Honors: Carnegie research grant and Ford Foundation fellowship. Articles and reviews have appeared in Foreign Affairs, New York Times, Saturday Review, Midstream, Problems of Communism, the Reporter, the Progressive, the New Republic, Survey (a journal of Soviet and East European studies), the Annals of the American Academy of Political Science, Commentary, and Commonweal, the Key to Human Rights-Implementation, published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in its publication International Conciliation, and National Jewish Monthly.
He was assistant professor of history and social science at Long Island Uni. versity and City College of New York; lectured at Howard University, University of Maryland, and Brandeis.
In 1962–63 he was lecturer on Russian history at Columbia University ; 1969–71, visiting professor at Yeshiva University.
His recent study “The Legal Position of the Soviet Jewish Community" was published by Praeger & Co., and another of his essays on Soviet Jews has been published by the Oxford University Press.
Dr. KOREY. Mr. Chairman, I have already submitted my statement and I ask that it be incorporated into the record. I simply want to make a few comments, particularly with reference to observations made in the press today which will extend upon my comments.
Mr. ROSENTHAL. Without objection, your entire statement will be included in the record.
(Mr. Korey's prepared statement follows:) STATEMENT OF DR. WILLIAM KOREY, DIRECTOR, NEW YORK BUREAU OF B'yai B'RITH
INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL AND VISITING PROFESSOR OF RUSSIAN-JEWISH HISTORY AT BROOKLYN COLLEGE
THE RIGHTS OF SOVIET JEWS: LAW AND REALITY
I don't suppose one can begin any discussion about the Soviet Union without quoting Lenin: "A constitution is a fiction when law and reality part; it is not a fiction when they coincide.” It is the dialectical contradiction between law and reality which has lead to the qualitative historical change which I described in