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APPEALS TO FOREIGN COMMUNISTS
At the time of the 24th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, in March 1971, the delegates of many of the world's Communist Parties gathered in Moscow. Taking advantage of their presence, the Soviet Jews addressed appeals to these delegates.
In letters addressed to the Western Communist Parties, the wives and relatives of those involved in the Leningrad trials pleaded for their intercession with the Soviet Union on behalf of their husbands. The wives wrote that their husbands were engaged in cultural activities, that they were striving to go to Israel, and that they were worried about events in the Middle East. But, they ask, is that anti-Soviet?
The writers stated that their husbands were subjected to inhuman conditions and that their families suffered from the effects of their imprisonment. It is with humility that these people turned to the Congress delebates: "We know that you are occupied with the solution of important problems, and we wish you every success in their realization. But we hope and believe at the same time that our fate and the fate of our relatives will be the object of your attention."
In an appeal to the Communist Party of Israel, written by a group of Jews a slightly different tack was used. The letter emphasizes the lack of Jewishness in the Soviet Union and the attempts, on the part of Soviet authorities, to eliminate that which does exist. Despite official efforts, Jewish national consciousness has increased.
Along with these letters to non-ruling Communist parties, one was also sent to Fidel Castro. This letter is unique in its use of Communist terminology and logic. First, the letter from 94 Vilna Jews argued that the Soviet authorities' treatment of the Jews is contrary to Communist principles of self determination of nations and exile to Birobidzhan is an alternative that even Lenin rejected. Second, they argue, and rightly so, that Jews have played an historic part in the events which preceded the Revolution of 1917, and were instrumental in the early years of Soviet rule. Third, the letter, quoting Lenin, states that "The capitalists incite hostility against the Jews, in order to throw dust in the eyes of the workers. . ." The implied question is: Isn't that what the Soviet Government is now doing?
It would seem fair to state that while the letter to Castro contained serious charges couched in Marxist-Lenin terms, the letters to the Western, non-ruling Communist Parties were potentially more effective. These parties, which work within a democratic framework. are subject to electoral pressures. They are caught between being loyal to Moscow and not espousing views which would be unpopular with their supporters. Since 1956, and since the Sino-Soviet rift, they have often bowed to the latter pressure, running the risk of alienating Moscow. But, because Moscow is striving to maintain leadership of the Communist bloc, it is attempting to curry favor with these parties. In this situation, Jewish constituent pressure (triggered by the appeals), which can play and has played a major role in the policies of the various parties, could lead them to pressure Moscow to change its policies-pressure which Moscow cannot altogether ignore.
NOTES ON THE LITERATURE
Three Million More? by Gunther Lawrence is now available in paperback (Tower Publications, N.Y.). It is a thorough, documented account of the plight of the Soviet Jews as well as a plea on their behalf that they not be forgotten. Mr. Lawrence writes in his conclusion that those who remain silent are accomplices in the Soviet crime.
Soviet Jewry Today and Tomorrow by Boris Smolar (McMillan, New York, 1971) presents a well-rounded picture of Soviet Jewish life. His information is drawn from conversations with Soviet officials, including Jewish members of the Commuinst Party, writers, scientists and Jews and non-Jews.
Yehoshua Gilboa's book, The Black Years of Soviet Jewry (Little, Brown) is a detailed account of the persecution of Soviet Jews especially in the period 1948 to 1953-the peak of Stalin's anti-semitism. It contains accounts of the Doctor's Plot of 1953 and of the Crimean Affair of 1952 as well as of the purges of top Jewish scientists, artists and intellectuals of the late Forties and early Fifties.
The most recent book on the plight of the Soviet Jews is Richard Cohen's paperback, Let My People Go (Eagle Books, Popular Library, N.Y.), published
in the middle of 1971, it contains up-to-date information on the situation in the Soviet Union, including transcripts of the Leningrad trials. It also includes documents from the historic Brussels conference and special articles. The book is available from the American Jewish Conference on Soviet Jewry.
The latest issues of the underground publication, Chronicle of Current Events, contains a record of demonstrations last spring in Riga, as well as mention of a number of appeals. One in particular was addressed to Golda Meir, and was written by a Jew detained by the Soviets in a psychiatric hospital.
The spring 1971 issue of Survey contains an article by Roi Medvedev-an outspoken Soviet historian-on the Jews in the Soviet Union. He advocates complete assimilation as the somewhat controversial solution to the Jewish question but, he adds that such assimilation can only take place in a free society. Without the democratization of the Soviet Union, Medvedev suggests that those Jews who wish to leave be allowed to do so.
ADDITIONAL REMARKS OF RABBI AVRIAHAM WEISS, BOARD MEMBER, COMMITTEE ON RUSSIAN JEWRY, NOVEMBER 10, 1971
I am appalled and aghast by Mr. Davies statement on behalf of the State Department that Soviet Jews are not living in terror. The situation of Soviet Jews has worsened and Jews do live under intolerable conditions.
Since the Six Day War anti-Semitic articles, editorials and caricatures in newspapers have increased. More and more Jews are harassed and expelled from their schools and jobs as they apply for visas. There are fewer Jews in the government, universities and key economic positions. Only Jews are not permitted liaisons with the co-religions within and without the Soviet Union. Only Jews are not permitted to print bibles, prayer books and other religious articles. Only Jews must have their religion stamped on their passport.
The synagogue in Moscow is sometimes full, but there is only one synagogue for one-half million Jews. How can one fact be mentioned without the other? How can a report on Soviet Jewry be issued without any mention of the notorious Leningrad, Kishinev and Riga trials which took place only a few months ago? Doesn't this indicate a worsening of conditions? Pravda, the official communist newspaper, issued the following statement. "Anyone who espouses to be a Zionist will be considered an enemy of the Soviet state;" this only a few months ago— doesn't this indicate a worsening of conditions?
Thousands of letters addressed to Soviet Jews have been returned with indications that the party is unknown or deceased. When in reality they are known and alive. Doesn't this deserve mention?
How can a report on Soviet Jewry be issued without any mention of the brutal inhumanity on the Soviet Union in separating families. Rita Gluzman, a Soviet Jewess, left the Soviet Union two years ago while one-month pregnant. Her son has not yet seen his father as the Soviets refuse to allow him to leave. Silva Zalmanson, sentenced to ten years in a Soviet labor camp only because she desired to leave for Israel, is near death, permitted but one visitor a year, and one-third the normal calorie intake. This list is endless.
The history of the State Department is well known. During World War II it ducked chance after chance to save Jews and bears the burden for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Jews. Regretfully, the situation has not changed. I respectfully submit that I believe that the United States doesn't care enough about Soviet Jewry. Keeping Soviet Jewry in the Third Committee of the General Assembly issuing soft and vague statements is insufficient. The Soviets will care only if we care. Mr. Davies' statement may have been written in a soft tone because of the President's forthcoming trip to Moscow, but political expediency and economic considerations should not outweigh what is morally and ethically correct. As one who teaches on campus I can tell you that thousands of young people are deeply distressed over the direction of our country. They see our Government as apathetic and callous in worldly situations, willing to overlook what is morally right for what it feels is economically and politically best for it.
What our Government fails to understand is that what is morally and ethically correct is, in the end result, what is politically and economically beneficial. We were silent thirty years let us not be silent again.
LEGISLATIVE PROPOSALS PENDING BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE DEALING WITH THE QUESTION OF SOVIET JEWRY
H. Con. Res. 8-Expressing the sense of Congress against the persecution of persons by Soviet Russia because of their religion.
H. Con. Res. 349-Expressing the sense of Congress respecting the treatment of Jews in the Soviet Union.
H. Con. Res. 48, 52, 59, 161, 195, and 203, and
H. Res. 43, 81, 145, 232, 268, and 394-Regarding persecution of Jews in the Soviet Union.
H.R. 9048 and H. Con. Res. 358-Requesting the President and the Secretary of State to urge the Government of the U.S.S.R. to release Ruth Aleksandrovich, a Soviet Jew, and other similarly situated persons, from imprisonment reportedly resulting from their desire to emigrate from the U.S.S.R. to Israel and to urge the Government of the U.S.S.R. to allow all persons desiring to leave that country to do so.
H. Con. Res. 202, 221, 222, 223, 239, 323, 333, 421-Requesting the President of the United States to take affirmative action to persuade the Soviet Union to revise its official policies concerning the rights of Jews in the Soviet Union.
H. Con. Res. 245 and 254-Requesting the President of the United States of America to take immediate and determined steps to encourage and persuade the Soviet Union to permit persons of the Jewish faith who express the desire to emigrate to a country of their choice.
H. Con. Res. 390, 391, 392, 393, 394, 396, 397, 398, 399, and 432-To relieve the suppression of Jews in the Soviet Union.
Abzug, Congresswoman Bella S: Record statement-
Al Tidom Association__.
American Jewish Conference on Soviet Jewry..
Anderson, Congressman John B.: Testimony and statement----
65, 69, 143, 209
Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith: Text of letter from, to Mr.
Broomfield, Congressman William S.: Record statement..
Chicago Community Council of Jewish Organizations: Record statement__
Emigration of Soviet Jews (see also Soviet Government, Soviet Jews).
Advantageous to Soviet Union----.
Influenced by public pressure_
Reasons for increase_.
Limited in potential----
Material progress not the object in..
Public opinion affecting--
Role of U.S. Government (see also U.S. Government).
Soviet policies toward_-
Varying criteria under.
23, 27, 42, 129, 211
3, 4, 120, 209, 267
Fact sheet on Soviet Jewry-.
Total anticipated number___
Fascell, Congressman Dante B.: Record statement....
Giaimo, Congressman Robert N.: Record statement_-_.
Halpern, Congressman Seymour: Record statement__
Forbidden for Soviet Jews to learn.
Hitler, Policy of, toward Jews (see also World War II)
Human Rights, Universal Declaration of:
43, 76, 96, 124, 267
20, 56, 271
5, 21, 25, 42, 76, 89, 124
Hurwitz, Mare: Article on Soviet education policy toward Jews-----
Jewish Defense League_.
Rabbi Meir Kahane..
Jewish prisoners in the Soviet Union--
Karth, Congressman Joseph E.: Record statement_-_.
Kemp, Congressman Jack F.:
Krushchev, Nikita S.-
KGB (Soviet Secret Police).
Koch, Congressman Edward:
67, 73, 78, 82, 84
3, 15, 51, 63, 127