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The Soviet regime has persecuted the Russian Jewish community to an unprecedented extent, seeking to gain by slow death what they dare not perpetrate openly before the
world by massacre. Jewish institutions are forbidden. The few synagogues grow fewer in number all the time. No rabbinical training of a formal sort is allowed. Production of religious articles pertaining to worship and education is minimal at best. Open regular religious worship is indulged by Russian Jews at their own peril. Assimilation is forced upon them, and even then discrimination is the order of the day for them.
Annually there is a battle to see whether or not baking of Passover matzos will be allowed; the unleavened bread so vital to efficient celebration of the holiday.
In all truth, Mr. Chairman, on all sides we can see that wherever Jewish life strives for expression, a dictatorial hand is clamped over it in the hope of finally stifling its life. We know the entire tale here in the United States, and it is time we raise our voices again and again on behalf of those who have no voice. In the past, particularly as Hitler was rising to power, we maintained our silence, allowing these people to perish alone and unsuccored. It is blot upon our name and history which we must not repeat.
BROADCASTS IN YIDDISH First, the Voice of America can and must commence broadcasting in Yiddish, the lingua franca of the European Jewish community in that area. I find such a refusal on the part of this agency intolerable and difficult to understand. Why does it broadcast in one exotic tongue after another to tiny groups around the world, yet refuse to recognize the existence of the Russian Jews in bondage? Our cost would be minimal and the results would be most beneficial. Let there be some sign of recognition over the ether that they are not alone in their moments of trial and bitter agony.
Second, the U.S. Government can and should make the most vehement protestations to the Government of the Soviet Union to allow these people to emigrate if they so desire. This country can and should allow them to enter this country as refugees and emigrants. We have extended this right of haven and refuge to the Cubans and a host of other groups. Shall we deny it to the people who have written the book on persecution and suffering?
Thirdly, we can and should allow the representatives of those seeking freedom for these tormented people to present their case to the proper authorities in government.
Mr. Chairman, I must confess that the actions of the State Department never cease to amaze me. In almost every way, they seek to give advantage to the Soviets and their Arab clients in the Middle East at the expense of the United States and our Israeli friends and allies. What is ours or the Israelis is negotiable, according to all their actions and activities. One wonders after a while what their true understanding or motives are.
It also seems to be that as friends of the Soviet Jews have sought some assistance and understanding at that appropriately named place, Foggy Bottom, they have been met with obfuscation, evasion, surly treatment and obvious unwillingness to cooperate. It is not surprising that this attitude should prevail, particularly in light of the known pro-Arab bias consistently exhibited there previously. Yet some elementary courtesy and cooperation would be hoped for. Some efforts, even of a cosmetic sort, would seem to be in order. Alas, even this has not been forthcoming. And their attitude has seemingly had significant influence upon the Voice of America.
Mr. Chairman, no people in the world have been subjected to more organized hatred, persecution, violence and discrimination than the Jews. Just perusing their history in a casual manner leads one to conclude that it is a major miracle that they are among us today. Theirs is a spirit that will not die, no matter what efforts dictators or prejudiced bureaucrats mount against them. In fact, the harder such enemies try, the more vital the Jews seem to grow.
It is ignoble of America to sit by idly and not attempt to do what is only right. We have done too much of late in the area of depriving men of their freedom. Let us now attempt to throw our weight onto the scales on the side of liberty. Let us speak out on behalf of these people. Our voice can and should be theirs. Thank you.
STATEMENT OF Iłox. WILLIAM S. BROOMFIELD, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF MICHIGAN
Mr. Chairman, I am glad to have an opportunity to express my support of House Concurrent Resolution 390 for the relief of the Jews and other minority groups in the Soviet Union.
Since December of last year, when the Leningrad show trials focused world attention on the plight of Russian Jewry, there has been a noticeable improvement in the Soviet attitude toward its Jewish community. The Washington Post (Nov. 5, 1971) stated that the Soviet Government has granted more than 300 exit permits in a 1-week period to Jews wishing to emigrate.
This is an encouraging sign to all men who cherish human freedom and value human dignity, but we must not relax our pressure for the stream of immigrants could be cut off abruptly at any time. The Washington Post also stated that “Diplomatic observers who keep track of Jewish emigration believe foreign pressure on the Kremlin is responsible for the relatively large number of Jews now being allowed to leave."
Still the condition under which Soviet Jews must live remains unsatisfactory, and still, there is the fear that they will deteriorate even further once the pressure of world opinion has been relaxed. Despite the fact that the Soviet Constitution guarantees the free expression of cultural and religious freedom, we know all too well that these liberties have been denied. Furthermore, the section of the United Nations Charter dealing with the Declaration of Human Rights, article 13, section 2, which states: "Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country," has been all but ignored by Russia.
This, Mr. Chairman, is why world opinion is a vital instrument and must be used to force the Soviet Union to recognize the legitimate rights of its citizens. This measure will demonstrate to the Soviet Union and the world that we are aware of and concerned with this situation.
Passage of this resolution will focus the spotlight of truth upon injustices which until recent years have been hidden from the free world. We can only rely on the weight of world public opinion, and the knowledge that the Soviet Union has responded to this form of pressure in the past.
To conclude, I am confident that passage of this resolution will keep the issue of religious freedom before the forum of world opinion. Furthermore, I am hopeful that it will prove one step toward generating a climate which will assure Soviet Jews the freedom and dignity which are the inherent rights of all men.
STATEMENT OF Hon. Hugh L. CAREY, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS
FROM THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Mr. Chairman. May I, at the outset, commend this distinguished subcommittee for undertaking these hearings on actions which this Government should take to assist the plight of Soviet Jewry:
This Nation has always been, and should always remain, a haven for the oppressed of other lands. Throughout history we have voiced concern and support for the harsh plight of persecuted minority groups.
Consistent with this heritage are the several resolutions concerning Soviet Jewry which are now before this subcommittee. Hopefully, the resolution reported out of this subcommittee will be part of worldwide efforts on behalf of this proud minority to make sure that the spiritual and cultural rights of Jews are not extinguished and that those who wish to emigrate are given a chance to do so.
Soviet Jews are being prosecuted solely for their wish to emigrate to Israel. Yet this right is guaranteed under article 13 (2) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights-a declaration that was unanimously adopted by the United Nations in 1948. The declaration specificalsy states:
Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.
Rights to emigrate are also provided for in the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1965), which was ratified by the Soviet Union, as well as in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966).
Yet only a small number of those Jews who have applied for exit visas to Israel have been granted permission to leave. Further, almost all who have applied for visas have had their jobs threatened and have been subjected to harassment by police.
Rights to religious worship and cultural freedom are in fact provided for in articles 124 and 126 of the Soviet Constitution. Article 124 states:
Freedom of religious worship and freedom of anti-religious propaganda is recognized for all citizens.
The Soviet attitude towards this blatant violation of international treaties as well as the Soviet Constitution was summed up on September 20, 1971, by Albert E. Ivanov, the Head of the Communist Party Central Committee of the Soviet Union which supervises the Department of the Interior, when he told a delegation of Jews in Moscow:
The decision of whether to allow Jews to leave is not the right of Jews, but of the State . . . And in this matter, the interests of the State have been given primary consideration ...?
1 The Christian Science Monitor, Oct. 19, 1971.
Mr. Ivanov went on to explain that no exit visas would be given to Jews of military age or those with skills needed by the Soviet Union.
It is therefore unrealistic, Mr. Chairman, to expect that the Soviet Government will suddenly consent to the mass emigration of Jews.
Yet it is not unrealistic to expect that the Soviet Government will be sensitive to the force of worldwide pressures.
World pressure following the December 1970 Leningrad trial of Soviet Jews accused of hijacking an airplane led to the commuting of the death sentences.
World pressure has led to an increase in the number of Jews allowed to leave the Soviet Union. According to figures in the New York Times, the year's total may reach 9,000 although definite figures are difficult to ascertain. In January, 50 Jews were allowed to leave; in February, 130; in March, 1,000; in April, 1,300; in June, between 700 and 1,000; in July, between 300 and 500; in August, between 400 and 600; in September, 1,000; and in October, 1,000. The upsurge in the months of March and April was probably due to the March meeting of the 24th Communist Party Congress; Jewish activists were allowed to leave for fear of embarrassing demonstrations. Premier Kosygin said that 4,450 Jews had left the Soviet Union for Israel during the first 8 months of this year, as compared with 4,667 who emigrated during the entire period from 1945 to 1963.2
500,000 EMIGRANTS SEEN
Clearly the number of visas granted is not enough, since it is estimated that close to 500,000 Jews would apply for visas if they could do so without fear of harsh 'social and economic reprisals. Yet the increase in visas granted demonstrates that the Soviet Union does yield to world pressures, particularly when the Soviet position in the world community would thereby be improved. Congress must therefore go on record as speaking out against the inability of Jews to receive exit visas, until all who wish to emigrate are able to do so. The Soviet Government must know that Americans of all faiths—acting through their elected Congress-deplore the Soviet treatment of Jews and make them welcome in this country.
On this very day, at the United Nations, a list of names said to include those of more than 1,000 Soviet Jews who want to emigrate to Israel was presented to Adam Malik of Indonesia, President of the General Assembly, by Yosef Tekoah, Israel's representative. Mr. Tekoah said it was the largest number of signers of any single appeal from Soviet Jews, although he said he had transmitted "several hundred such appeals" to the United Nations officials.
Efforts must be intensified to get a positive response to this request. At the very least, I would hope that the President will include this matter in discussions with Soviet officials when he visits Moscow next year.
2 Chicago Tribune, Oct. 21, 1971 (Kosygin Statement in Canada).