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The force of world public opinion is the most important single ally that Soviet Jews have in their struggle for fairplay and legal rights. Violence can only lessen the cohesiveness of world public opinion on this problem.
During the past year, the Jewish community and prominent Israeli figures, as well as non-Jewish leaders, have overwhelmingly condemned the adoption of these repugnant tactics by a few fanatics.
Notably, President Nixon, in his message to American Jewish leaders on January 11, 1971, deplored these cases of lawlessness and violence and declared:
This administration, in cooperation with local authorities, will use every means at its disposal to prevent such acts and to bring to justice those who perpetrate them.
PREMIER MEIR ON VIOLENCE
Israeli Premier Golda Meir, on November 27, 1970, had said:
There is nothing in common between the just struggle for the rights of Jews in the Soviet Union and irresponsible acts such as have taken place recently in New York. If there is any connection, it is only that anyone who commits an act of sabotage against a Soviet institution sabotages the responsible and organized efforts of Jews the world over for the sake of Soviet Jewry. This has never been our way, and I denounce it. It can only do harm to our just struggle. I think it would be unjust if anyone identified a group responsible for these acts with the masses of Jews and non-Jews who are carrying on this just struggle for Jews in the Soviet Union.
On October 18, 1971, on the David Frost television show, Abba Eban, Foreign Minister of Israel, stated that militant activities "hinder us, because the cause we sustain—both Israel's independence or, in this case, Soviet Jews—have a very powerful appeal. Now, in the United States there is every opportunity for promoting these ideals through peaceful means. When violence is adopted *** I think the cause is, in a sense, corrupted and degraded, and I don't really think that the activities of Mr. Kahane add anything to us at all, and I believe that Soviet Jews would be much better off, and so would be Isarel's cause, without this kind of activity. I believe that some of these people are more interested in their own popularity than in the cause to which they give their devotion."
These activities have been condemned time and time again by American Jewish organizations. I will cite only a few examples.
U.S. JEWISH GROUPS' VIEWS
The American Jewish Conference on Soviet Jewry: Anyone who applauds the bombing or its perpetrators violates all principles of responsible behavior in a civilized society.
It is morally reprehensible and politically self-defeating * * * it is obvious that the Soviets will seize upon the threats of the Jewish Defense League as a pretext for its own misdemeanors.
The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America:
*** Such intemperate violence creates a "chilul hasem"- a desecration of the divine name that plays into the hands of our enemies.
The American Jewish Committee: We call on all Jews to repudiate the lawlessness and self-defeating conduct of the Jewish Defense League.
The Jewish War Veterans:
[We have] consistently opposed extremism, vigilantism, and other movements of a similar character **
The American Jewish Congress:
These tactics do not enhance the security of the Jewish community. On the contrary, they serve only to heighten tension, increase hostility, and foment panic * distorting all that is noble, just, and kind in the Jewish spirit.
Max Fisher, president of the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds; Rabbi Herschel Schacter, chairman of the American Jewish Conference on Soviet Jewry; and Dr. William A. Wexler, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations:
The handful of reckless and dangerous men guilty of attacking Soviet installations in this country stand condemned as imperiling the cause of Soviet Jewry. Their outrageous, cowardly acts do malicious harm to the courage and dignity of Soviet Jews who are speaking out for their human rights. Such desperate and criminal tactics win sympathy for the Soviet Union by the use of a mindless violence that all decent men abhor ***. In the name of the Jewish community of America, we denounce this strategy of terror and the men who are guilty of it.
The Synagogue Council of America:
We * * * reject calls to violence and vigilantism emanating from various quarters, including a small and unrepresentative segment of the Jewish community.
A recent emigree from the U.S.S.R. Mikhail Zand, 14-year-old Russian Jewish scholar, specialist in Oriental languages, and a leader for 4 years among Soviet Jewish activists, has sharply condemned “riolent tactics" (New York Times, September 4). He said:
The Russian intellectual's national and cultural feelings-sacred to him--are offended when a bomb is exploded in a Soviet building in the United States and an American concert by a Russian artist is disrupted.
SOVIET INTELLECTUALS AID JEWS
Professor Zand termed the Soviet intellectual community the only ally" of Jews in the U.S.S.R. He said "violent protests were "counterproductive" and "do not help our cause.” He added that this kind of behavior "spoils the image of the Jews as the people of the book,' a people with a long cultural heritage, a people who esteem and revere the great cultural traditions of all nations."
Zand said that Soviet propagandists exploit reports of violent protests in this country to depict "all Jews as barbarians” in the Soviet press.
Mr. Chairman, I could continue with innumerable other expressions by Jewish leaders and publications, in the United States, Israel, and elsewhere, on the damage done by anti-Soviet acts of violence perpetrated by extremists.
As for the U.S. Government's position, let me state again that we consider foreign diplomats and representatives as our invited guests in this country. All decent Americans realize that they must be so treated. Sneak-thief bombings, snipings, and other harassments are repugnant to all of us. The Federal authorities, in cooperation with State and local authorities, will exert every effort to punish those who engage in such acts.
Mr. ROSENTHAL. Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary.
Just reviewing all the resolutions that have been introduced, I have had an analysis made of them. Over 200 members have introduced resolutions.
The one that the State Department supports, aside from other tactical errors, is the only one that does not mention emigration. Of the resolutions introduced in this Congress, including one which I consider the principal one, by John Anderson of Illinois and Tip O'Neill of Massachusetts-the one that the State Department supports is the only one that does not mention emigration.
Mr. Davies. Mr. Chairman, my understanding is that the Department commented on the resolution about which it was asked by Chairman Morgan. We were asked in a letter of January 21
Mr. ROSENTHAL. Is that the only one that the chairman asked you to comment on?
Mr. Davies. No. Then we were asked subsequently, on March 25, for comments on House Resolution 202, House Resolution 221, and House Resolution 222.
MODIFIED RESOLUTION SUPPORTED Now, in commenting on House Concurrent Resolution 8, I might note that we made some suggestions for changes. With your permission, Mr. Chairman, I might read the text of the resolution with the suggested revisions.
Mr. ROSENTHAL. Do you think that that is the resolution we are going to work from?
Mr. DAVIES. I don't know, sir. I was not here to hear your opening statement. Did you identify it?
Mr. ROSENTHAL. No, I did not.
There are over a hundred Members of the House who are cosponsors of House Concurrent Resolutions 349, 390, 391, 392, 394, 396, 397, 399, and 432, sponsored by Anderson of Illinois and O'Neill of Massachusetts, both of whom are members of the leadership team in the House of Representatives. It would seem to me that might be a good point for a beginning for this committee's considerations.
Mr. DAVIES. Mr. Chairman, that, of course, is a matter for the committee to decide.
We have not commented on the other resolutions
Mr. ROSENTHAL. Why don't you tell me generally, then, going back to Mr. Annunzio's House Concurrent Resolution 8, what else you would want to add, how you would want to change that resolution.
Mr. DAVIES. You have the text of House Concurrent Resolution S? Mr. ROSENTHAL. Yes. Mr. Davies (reading). Whereas, the Congress of the United States deeply believes in freedom of religion and other human rights for all people, and is opposed to infringement
Mr. ROSENTHAL. Why don't you get to the resolution, the “Resolved” clause?
Mr. Davies (continuing).
Resolved, That it is the sense of the Congress that persecution of any persons because of their religion or nationality by the Soviet Union be condemned, and that the Soviet Union in the name of decency and humanity allow Jews, members of other religious and minority groups, and all other Soviet citizens freedom to emigrate and to travel abroad, and allow the free exercise of religion and pursuit of culture by Jews and all others within its borders.
Mr. ROSENTHAL. Well, that is an improvement.
Does your colleague want to say something and tell us a little bit about his experiences in Moscow ?
There are some things that Secretary Davies said that seem inconsistent with some things I have heard. Beginning at the bottom of page 3 and running over to page 4, he said
With respect to the majority, claims that Soviet Jews as a community are living in a state of terror seem to be overdrawn.
A DIFFERENT VIEW
In my own person-to-person conversations and experiences with people, I come up with a different point of view than that sentence.
When Congressman Koch returned from Moscow, where he had meetings with a number of people, he suggested that they were in a virtual intellectual reign of terror, and he even suggested a physical reign of terror.
From what I recall of what he told me, and from what other people have told me, this “overdrawn” here seems to be a little out of tone with perhaps the facts.
What would you want to add ?
STATEMENT OF SOL POLANSKY, FORMERLY FIRST SECRETARY OF
THE AMERICAN EMBASSY IN MOSCOW
Mr. POLANSKY. I would say, based on my experience
Mr. POLANSKY. Sol Polansky, First Secretary of the Embassy. I worked in the political section, primarily dealing with Soviet foreign policy. I arrived in September 1968, and left in the middle of July 1971, so I spent approximately 3 years. This is my second tour in the Soviet Union. I was there from 1952 to 1955.
I would stand by this statement. I would say, based on my own personal experience in the Soviet Union, both in Moscow and in traveling throughout the Soviet Union, that it would be an exaggeration to say that Jews live in a state of terror.
I spent 3 years in Moscow, plus attending synagogues in central Asia during the High Holidays. Those synagogues were full. There were a number of Jews, both old Jews and some young Jews. I don't think there were any signs of terror. They were practicing their religion.
I think in certain cases where they were talking with peopleMr. ROSENTHAL. Did you notice any police officers or KGB people in the vicinity of the synagogues?
Mr. POLANSKY. I would say during the celebration of Simchas Torah there were certainly uniformed police and plain clothesmen around. The Jews we observed, and the Jews we talked to certainly were not, as far as we could tell, intimidated by them.
PERSONAL EXPERIENCE IN RUSSIA
I am not suggesting that Jews feel they are completely free, but I think the statement that they live in a state of terror is an exaggeration, based on my own personal experience.
Mr. ROSENTHAL. Do you think there was any hesitation in talking very forthrightly to you because people knew you were a member of the Embassy?
Mr. POLANSKY. Yes; I think there were some hesitations. I think that Jews have certain concerns and certain restrictions. I think that is different from saying that they live in a state of terror. We had some people who told us about their desires to emigrate to Israel. We had young people who shied away from the question when we asked them. So I think you have a range of experience.
Mr. ROSENTHAL. Aside from Jews, is there a reign of intellectual terror or persecution of one sort or another directed toward all citizens in the Soviet Union?
Mr. POLANSKY. There are certain restrictions on intellectual activity and the kind of restrictions you get in the press I think are amply documented. However, there are certain questions that the Soviets put to you that make it quite plain that they have information from sources outside of Soviet sources. Certainly there are restrictions.
Mr. ROSENTHAL. Can Soviet citizens travel within the Soviet Union itself, from city-to-city, or province-to-province?
Mr. POLANSKY. No; they can not. They have internal passports and they have to use those internal passports whenever they want to travel.
Mr. ROSENTHAL. You don't think that is a step in the reign of terror?
Mr. POLANSKY. I think it is a restriction that can be a step in the reign of terror; yes. Again, in making a comparison between the first time I was there from 1952 to 1955, and the present time, I don't see the kind of intimidation that we experienced while Stalin was alive and the kind of intimidation that exists now.
Mr. ROSENTHAL. I think that is absolutely true. From my reading of history, which hardly compares with your being on the scene, the reign of terror that existed in Stalin's period was perhaps one of the most dastardly in the history of mankind. So any improvement from that doesn't deserve any great plaudits. They killed hundreds of thousands of people during that period of time.
Mr. POLANSKY. Mr. Chairman, I am not trying to give them plaudits. I am trying to make a comparison between my first stay and second stay, and also answering your questions about my own experience about a reign of terror.