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can mother and a naturalized American father, underwent in obtaining his freedom. He was repeatedly detained as he attempted to enter the U.S. embassy in Moscow by Soviet officials, who claimed that his mother had surrendered her American passport and citizenship when she and her husband moved to the U.S.S.R. in 1931. Late last year, however, our embassy officials learned that Mrs. Rigerman had not voluntarily submitted her passport, but gave it up under pressure from Soviet officials.
THE RIGERMAN CASE
It was at this point-November of 1970—that a number of us in the House of Representatives joined in sending a letter to our Secretary of State urgently requesting the confirmation of Leonid Rigerman's U.S. citizenship. Needless to say, we were all extremely gratified when the State Department took this requested action in December and were even more relieved when Mr. Rigerman and his mother were allowed to come to this country in February.
Mr. Rigerman has given us a first-hand picture of life as a Soviet Jew. He has told of restrictions which encompassed not only religious activities, but educational and vocational as well. There are restrictions on the number of Jews who can attend universities, and on the number which can be hired at certain institutions. Even those who are permitted to attend synagogue often face economic reprisals, Mr. Rigerman said.
While his emphasis was mainly on the discrimination against Jews, this accentuated, in my judgment, the basic disregard for human rights which has been continually evidenced by actions of the Soviet Union.
Perhaps most unconscionable is the Soviet Union's refusal to let most of these persecuted people emigrate to places where they can live in freedom. This right to emigrate is a precious right recognized by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations Charter, and the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination all of which have been ratified by the U.S.S.R. The Soviet refusal to recognize this right also flies in the face of a commitment made in 1966 by Premier Aleksei Kosygin to permit Russian families separated by the ravages of war to be reunited with relatives outside Soviet borders. Since that 1966 commitment more than 50,000 applications for family reunions outside of Soviet borders, many of them from Soviet Jews, have not been acted upon. Earlier this year, Mr. Rigerman estimated that some 500,000 Soviet Jews would leave that country-many going to Israel--if they were permitted to do so.
Mr. Chairman, as you know, the Congress has already gone on record recently with respect to its abhorrence of Soviet persecution of its Jewish citizens. On December 31, 1970, the House of Representatives passed a resolution, House Resolution 1336, expressing “Its grave concern over the continued injustices to which the Jewish people in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics have been subjected by the government of that nation, as manifested most recently by the cruel and unusual punishment imposed upon Jewish citizens of the Soviet Union for allegedly trea sonous acts." That same resolution called upon the President to convey to the Soviet Government this grave concern and to "urge that Government to provide fair and equitable justice for its Jewish citizens." Earlier this year the U.S. Senate approved a similar resolution.
So long as this persecution exists, however, our efforts on behalf of these persecuted people must continue. As previously indicated, this Subcommittee has pending before it a number of measures which would both continue and enhance these efforts.
Among the pending measures are several which I have cosponsored in the current Congress. One of these measures, H. Con. Res. 221, requests “* * * the President of the United States to manifest our country's position as the guardian of the traditions of liberty and justice for all, the dignity of all mankind and the freedom of worship, by taking appropriate affirmative action to persuade the Soviet Union to revise its official policies in the following manner: (a) to terminate its practice of depriving Soviet Jewry of the opportunity of worshipping in a free manner and in accordance with age-old Jewish traditions; and (b) to grant to the Jewish minority the same rights of preserving its cultural identity as the Government grants to other Soviet minority groups; and (c) to permit Jewish persons to emigrate freely from the Soviet Union to Israel or to any country of their choice without restriction or limitation."
RESOLUTION 390 CITED
A similar resolution which I have cosponsored, H. Con. Res. 390, directs the President to “ * * take immediate and determined steps to-(1) call upon the Soviet Government to permit the free expression of ideas and the exercise of religion by all its citizens in accordance with the Soviet Constitution; and (2) utilize formal and informal contacts with Soviet officials in an effort to secure an end to discrimination against religious minorities; and (3) demand of the Soviet Government that it permit its citizens the right to emigrate from the Soviet Union to the countries of their choice as affirmed by the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights; and (4) call upon the State Department to raise in the General Assembly of the United Nations the issue of the Soviet Union's transgression of the Declaration of Human Rights."
Like the foregoing resolution, another measure which I have joined in introducing, H. Con. Res. 446, also calls attention to the Soviet Union's flagrant violation of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and directs the President to * * * present to the United Nations General Assembly in fitting manner the issue of the right to emigrate from and also return to one's country.”
This same problem of the Soviet Union's denial to its citizens of the right to emigrate is the subject of legislation which I have cosponsored and which has been referred to another Committee, the House Judiciary Committee. That iegis. lation, H.R. 6698, is intended to challenge the Soviet Union to permit those Jews who wish to leave to do so and to show that the United States would welcome them here. It would provide 30.000 special refugee visas for Soviet Jews who are permitted to leave the Soviet Union and who wish to come to this country.
BROADCASTS IN YIDDISH Finally, I have cosponsored several resolutions which call for broadcasts by the Voice of America to the Soviet Union's Jewish citizens in the Yiddish language. While it is my understanding that these particular resolutions are not being considered in these hearings, they are mentioned as another example whereby a significant number of House Members have demonstrated their awareness of and concern for the plight of Soviet Jews.
Mr. Chairman, it is my profound hope that the Subcommittee on Europe and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs will give recognition to the widspread concern over the injustices suffered by the Soviet Jews by promptly approving these or similar measures. As previously indicated, I do not feel such legislative action to be a mere exercise in futility, unlikely to be of any help to those who are the object of our concern. The very arrival of the Rigermans in the United States is testimony to the fact that the Soviet Union is sensitive to world public opinion, as was the commutation of the two death penalties arising from last year's so-called hijacking trial. With increased pressure from outside the Soviet Union, furthermore, the number of Jews permitted to leave Russia has increased to a level which, although still tragically restrictive, is unprecedented in that nation's history.
I am hopeful that continued pressure by countries such as the United States and many others will bring about at least a partial degree of the freedoms to Soviet citizens that we in the United States have enjoyed for so long. I am particularly hopeful that our efforts-limited though they must be--will bring about some relief for the Jewish citizens who are victims of particular discrimination there. Thank you.
Mr. BUCHANAN. May I simply conclude our part by saying that in my judgment the Rabbi has spoken both eloquently and wisely in his underlining of the fact that where Jews are permitted to be Jews they are good citizens of the country of which they are a part. There are Jews in the world and in the Soviet Union quite obviously who do look upon Israel as their spiritual home. If there is any fact that stands out in my mind as a citizen of this century it is that the great moral necessity of the 20th century was the rebirth of Israel and that history and justice cry out together that it must continue to live.
SECOND WORLD WAR
Those of us who lived through the era of Hitler and World War II cannot ever forget the unique suffering and travail of the Jewish people in our time, and the mandate that gave completion to this rebirth of Israel. It is regrettable that, as the gentleman from Illinois has suggested, Soviet foreign policy may well be based in part on fear, the fears of the Arab world and of the Soviet Union in its relationship with the Arab world, that there would be a great flood of Jewish citizens should the gates be opened into Israel, which might cause problems in that part of the world. May I say in my considered judgment this is an unfounded fear. Though there be 200,000, 300,000, 400,000, 500,000 Jewish citizens of the Soviet Union who if they could would emigrate to Israel, those of us who have visited the State of Israel can be quite convinced that these persons could be assimilated into the society, and could prove valuable to the entire Middle East in what they could accomplish in that society in the context of peace without requirement for territorial expansion or invasion of anyone else's rights cr territory.
There is a second unfounded fear in the situation within the Soviet Union, and that apparently is the fear of freedom, itself. We should be committed to human rights everywhere, not only in the United States, for all ethnic groups, but also for people of every race, religion, or ethnic group here or around the world. But if there is a group for whom the world community should show special concern and in which it should take special interest again, it seems to me it is the Jewish community in such repressive nations as the Soviet Union.
It would seem to me, Mr. Chairman, that the Soviet Union does not serve either its foreign policy interests nor the interests of good domestic policy in continuing to repress a group of citizens who, if the repressions were removed, might make the very finest, most useful productive citizens of that country, were their rights not persistently violated, and the free expression of their Jewish faith so consistently denied in the Soviet Union.
PUBLIC PRESSURE WORKS
Now what can we do about it? We can do what we have started to do. As indicated in my earlier remarks, The Washington Post on November 6 carried an article by Robert G. Kaiser. He summed up his case in this sentence:
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.
We can do whatever is in our power to keep before the world the plight of Soviet Jewry and to make certain that our influence is firmly placed on the line within the world community, as a part of that community for human rights everywhere and particularly for the rights of these Jewish citizens of the Soviet Union, and the evidences to date are that that influence and that pressure is felt by the Soviet Government and has been helpful to some extent toward alleviating the plight both in the matter of domestic rights and in the matter of emigration.
It is my profound hope and prayerful hope that our effort here, Mr. Chairman, will result in greater freedom and in something closer to justice for Soviet Jewry and in a situation which sees the gates opened that those who would move to Israel or the United States or anywhere shall exercise that basic human freedom.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. ROSENTHAL. Thank you very much, Mr. Buchanan, for a very eloquent and articulate and moving statement.
Mr. FINDLEY. I may have misunderstood what you said, but I believe you stated that there is a seminary for the training of rabbis in the Soviet Union. Is that correct?
Rabbi Elovitz. That is correct.
Mr. FINDLEY. One of the proposals you made was that we attempt to encourage the Soviet Government to urge or at least cooperate in the development of synagogues.
Rabbi ELOvitz. Yes, sir.
Mr. FINDLEY. Did you broaden that to include seminaries or just synagogues ?
SEMINARIES AND SYNAGOGUES
Rabbi Elovitz. No, I would not broaden that to include seminaries simply because we know that the type of surveillance and, shall we say, governmental instruction is not which lends itself to training except in a rather KGB-programmed Russian rabbi who is not one who is a culturally or spiritually oriented human being. That seminary at one time had a large number of students, many of whom were youthful. But by pressure brought by the Soviet Government, many students found that once they left the seminary in Moscow and returned home that all of a sudden there were no apartments left for them to return to in Moscow.
In other words, the classes were limited continually until now there is only one student remaining. It is not really a seminary, it is simply another public protestation of what is absent in the private reality.
Mr. FINDLEY. Is the Soviet policy which inhibits the development of synagogues equally repressive on the development of other religious institutions such as Christian churches?
Rabbi Elovitz. No, sir, it is not. We know that there are many other types of minorities. As a matter of fact, the Jews are only one of a hundred different types of minorities in Russia. The Moslems are allowed to send Moslem students to Moslem countries to be trained in the faith of Islam. Other religions such as the Baptists, for example, do exist in the Soviet Union and they are allowed to send students beyond the satellite countries to study.
This is a particular type of restriction on the Jewish community.
Mr. FINDLEY. Do they permit Soviet citizens who are Baptists to come to another country for seminary training?
Rabbi ELOVITZ. Yes, sir.
Mr. FINDLEY. Thank you very much for your fine testimony. I am especially pleased that the Jewish rabbi thinks so highly of our Baptist colleague from Alabama.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. BUCHANAN. One more word in response to the gentleman from Illinois. There are two kinds of Baptists in the Soviet Union, the legal and illegal kind. There are more illicit Baptists than there are legitimate Baptists. That is the Baptist church is officially tolerated but is restricted, as are other religious expressions in various ways. There are many who operate illegally by passing out such dangerous literature as some produced by the Sunday school board in Nashville, Tenn., for use in our churches here. There are restrictions, but the legitimate Baptists are permitted to have limited activity. Jews not only as adherents to a religious faith but also as members of an ethnic group are uniquely discriminated against in the Soviet Union. I think that is beyond challenge. It is only the illicit Baptists that might fall under quite as heavy an action.
COURAGE OF SOVIET JEWS
Mr. FINDLEY. I hope our colleague can reassure us whether there are any illicit Baptists down in Birmingham or not.
Mr. BUCHANAN. Absolutely no, I will say to the gentleman.
One thing more, Mr. Chairman, if I may. When the history of the 20th century is written the courage of Soviet Jewry will constitute one of its most shining chapters. It is my prayerful hope that we can find a way to help them here.
Mr. ROSENTHAL. Thank you very much.
Mr. ROSENTHAL. Our next witness is a distinguished member of this committee, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, my colleague from New York, Congressman Jonathan Bingham.
STATEMENT OF HON. JONATHAN BINGHAM, A REPRESENTATIVE
IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Mr. BINGHAM. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee.
In the interest of time I will not read my statement. I would like to enter it for the record and make a couple of additional comments and summarize it.
You are dealing here with some tremendously important issues. It is a very broad subject. My intent is just to cover two aspects of this subject.
VIOLATION OF TREATIES
First of all, the fact that the Soviet treatment of the Jews in the Soviet Union is in violation of declarations of the entire national community and solemn treaty obligations entered into by the Soviet Union. I think it is generally known that this is true of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which the Soviets, of course, were signatory to, which specifically guarantees the right of a citizen to leave his country and to return and which also specifies certain other rights which
1 The document appears on p. 211 of the appendix.