Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub

SOVIET JEWRY

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 1971

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS,
SUBCOMMITTEE ON EUROPE,

Washington, D.C. The subcommittee met at 10 a.m. in room 2171, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Benjamin S. Rosenthal (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.

Mr. ROSENTHAL. The subcommittee will be in order.

The Subcommittee on Europe today begins hearings on a subject which is physically remote but humanely very close to our country and to its Congress.

The continued privation of Soviet Jews is a bitter and even an unforgivable remainder of the past for those whose generation includes the memories of the Second World War.

One cannot, nor should not, divorce that collective emotional memory from the legislative consideration which we start now of resolutions expressing

today's concern for Soviet Jews.

1

AN ISSUE OF HUMAN RIGHTS

As an American citizen and as a Member of Congress, I am appalled by the accounts of the privation and hardships suffered by Soviet Jews. Yet, we must view those deprivations not simply as citizens of one country viewing the abhorrent behavior of another government. We must view these acts as the denial of human rights--a situation which must be condemned wherever and whenever it occurs.

Similarly, it is no defense of these actions by the Soviet Government to say that the United States, or Britain or South Vietnam fails to protect its citizens against arbitrary and inhumane treatment or is even a party itself to such treatment. We shall never contribute to the progress of the human condition simply by citing further instances of its deprivation.

These are not merely educational or informational hearings. This subcommittee intends to report promptly to the Committee on Foreign Affairs and to the House of Representatives a resolution on this subject. The four sessions of hearings today and tomorrow form the initial stage of this legislative work. We intend to produce a resolution before the end of this session of Congress.

Our witnesses represent a broad range of concerned opinion. Not all of them agree on what appropriate and effective measures can be taken by either our Government or our citizens privately to express this concern and to affect changes within the Soviet Union.

1 A compilation of legislative proposals pending before the subcommittee appears on

p. 310.

(1)

We shall hear these witnesses in the spirit of sympathy and concern which motivated the Congressmen—now numbering over 200—who have sponsored the legislation we consider today and tomorrow.

We are very pleased and honored that our first witness is Mr. F. Lee Bailey, representing the League for Repatriation of Russian Jews.

Mr. Bailey, we know you have been granted special permission by the U.S. district court in Detroit to take the time out to come here and speak to us about your views. We are grateful to the court and we are particularly appreciative of you by virtue of the fact of your long and concerned interest in this very important subject. We are very pleased to hear from you.

STATEMENT OF F. LEE BAILEY, REPRESENTING THE LEAGUE FOR

REPATRIATION OF RUSSIAN JEWS

BIOGRAPHY

a

Lawyer; b. 1933; student Harvard ; LL.B., Boston U. Admitted to bar, 1960; practices in Boston. Member, American Bar Assn.

Mr. BAILEY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and good morning, committee members.

I think, perhaps, I should explain a little of the background of my involvement in this problem.

About 1 year ago a Mr. Harris Brathman, chairman of the International Congress for the Repatriation of Russian Jews, had a meeting with me wherein he requested I go, if possible, to the Soviet Union to observe the Leningrad skyjacking trials where certain Russian Jews were being, in his view, persecuted wrongfully for crimes they did not commit. It was his feeling that the Soviet Government was going to use this incident to discourage efforts on the part of Russian Jews seeking to repatriate to Israel, to shut down the movement, so to speak.

Permission was denied by the Russian Government, and that attendance was not had. However, during the past year many meetings were held, some with the State Department, some with those knowledgeable and experienced in dealing with the Russian Government.

VISIT TO TEL AVIV

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

Recently I went to Tel Aviv in the company of Mr. William Malman in order to talk firsthand with those who had recently repatriated, who were leaders of the movement when they were still in Russia, to learn from them what was needed, what the prognosis was, what the spirit was, and what the future of this entire movement might be expected to be.

On the 9th of October in Haifa, Israel, I met with one of the most recognized leaders of the movement to repatriation, a Mr. Villa Lujinsky. On the following day I met in Tel Aviv with the leader of a companion group whose actions and intentions are entirely consistent with the first committee, a woman lawyer named Leah Slavenka. I received from both sides a rather consistent picture of what is happening inside Russia, what is motivating these people to persist and what is causing them to run the risk of retaliation if they put in a written application.

The Soviet Government apparently has displayed in the past and continues to display an ambivalent attitude toward the problem. Although they have frequently jailed the leaders of the movement, those who are constantly agitating to encourage the Government to permit more and more of those wanting to repatriate; on the other hand, they do not seem to be taking any more violent measures, as might have been expected, as in the past, as a result of which these people have not been inhibited. And from time to time the Soviet Government will permit in large numbers those leaders to repatriate, we think in an effort to deprive the movement of its leadership inside the Soviet Union, and perhaps cause it to disappear like a rudderless ship, or to at least dissipate.

It has been the experience of this group that as leaders are allowed to leave, that they take up their post in Israel and new leaders emerge. The communications are rather good, somewhat better than I would have expected. There is almost daily conversation between those still inside the Soviet Union and those who are attempting to assist from Israel and from the United States, as to what is going on and what the new attitude, because it changes frequently, of the Soviet Government seems to be.

MEETING IN NEW YORK

About 2 weeks ago numerous groups inside the United States that have been operating independently in order to lend aid and encouragement to this problem, met in New York for the purpose of unification. That is now the Research Institute for Soviet Jewry. Their purpose is twofold; one, to raise necessary funds to permit these people to continue to operate effectively, and the other is to show continuing encouragement and belief in the correctness of the position of those who wish to repatriate and, put quite simply, to keep morale high despite the contrary pressures that seem to exist in varying degrees and from time to time inside the Soviet Union.

My reason for agreeing to be involved was in part the fact that to me it is highly significant that a completely competing form of government and culture has not succeeded in persuading large numbers of its intelligent population that it is on the right track. The people who are agitating the hardest to leave the Soviet Union are those who were born and weaned within it. They have apparently rejected rather categorically the form of government in which they find themselves. They are not critical of the Russian form of government, they don't want to change it; they simply say that they want to go home.

Of course I think that the pride of the Jewish faith or race in its own country is well known, but it is a sufficiently sustaining force to encourage very large numbers, and the number of the 3 million that we estimate are now living in the Soviet Union who would leave tomorrow if the gates were opened is speculative. We are satisfied that it would be several hundred thousand within a short time.

Of particular interest is the group, I should say, between 20 and 40 or 45. They are well educated, most of them have good technical educations and can contribute heavily to the industrial problems of their native land if they can get there. They do face at the present time the threat of retaliation in many forms, isolation, constant criticism, pressure from the KGB, if they put in the written application that is a prerequisite for repatriation.

EMIGRATION QUOTA RAISED

On the other hand, those applications continue to go in. They are less in number in all probability by several hundred percent than those that would go in if there were no price annexed. But I must say that I think these efforts are bearing fruit. The Russian Government is not known for making specious concessions and yet I was heartened to see last week while in Montreal a headline in that city's leading newspaper announcing that the quota had been stepped up, that the numbers who were permitted to repatriate had been increased.

Although we can't claim that it is directly tied to any developments, certainly the pressures that are inherent in this very peaceful effort to accomplish something that a foreign government should do by any measure of right is a new way to try and solve intercontinental problems. It is encouraging because it is the fodder from which movements involving bloodshed have cropped up in the past. We think the efficacy of this method is finally showing its toll. We think there is a good likelihood of a continuing change in the at

а titude of the Russian Government. Perhaps there is some discomfort about the notion of having that many people of a unified thought inside one's own country, but perhaps there is also some understanding at this point that the problem is not going to go away either by ignoring it or repressing it

. For that reason I have participated with the various groups involved in trying to unite the effort behind Soviet Jewry with a view toward hopefully one day participating, if these can be had, in negotiations for some peaceful and orderly repatriation on a more realistic scale than that which has been possible in the past.

The medium presently being explored, and the one which I think has the greatest likelihood of success after conferring at length with people I believe are not only well respected by the Russian Government but also have some understanding of its mental machinations, are neutrals in Europe who are at least given some measure of trust by both governments and probably could carry a proposition to the necessary forces in the Soviet Government with a fair degree of credibility. I do not think that the day of head-to-head negotiations to try to solve this problem is near at hand, but I don't think it is too far over the horizon, either.

TO STRENGTHEN MORALE I think that continued expressions of the determination of everyone concerned about this problem to see that it not die will not only keep the morale of those inside the Soviet Union who have the problem firsthand at a high level, but also render encouragement which is necessary to those working on the outside with very limited funds in order to keep the communications alive, and this is one of the most effective tools to accomplish this purpose, and to show a broad determination on the part of the people that certainly has been recognized as one of the most free peoples in the world for a long time to keep a shoulder behind the entire effort.

This is my view, and not tomorrow and certainly not next week, but in my view is eventually going to either solve or put a huge dent in what is now an urgent and highly visible problem, not only of geo

« ÎnapoiContinuați »