NEW YORK (Jun. 9)
A group of American businessmen, physicians, lawyers and teachers, who spent 28 days in the Soviet Union last summer today released a verbatim report of their talk with Nikita Khrushchev, head of the Soviet Government, during which he expressed his view on the status of the Jews in the USSR and on the possibility of Jewish emigration from Russia to Israel. The report is in the form of questions put to Khrushchev and his answers. The portion referring to the Jews, follows:
Question: We have heard in America that Jews are not permitted to go freely to Israel.
Answer: It is true to some extent and to some extent not true. We don’t allow just anyone to leave the Soviet Union. We issue passports only to those whose visits are expedient. We recently, though, allowed a great number of Jews to go to Poland and we knew that many of them would go on to Israel from there. I am sure the time will come when all Jews, or Russians, for that matter, who want to go to Israel will be able to do so. I know there are many Jews who have gone to Israel who want to come back here as life is not very sweet for them there.
Question: Is it possible for a Jew with relatives in Israel to go there?
Answer: Yes, I think this is possible. Recently the Prime Minister of Denmark asked us to grant permission for three Jews to leave the Soviet Union and we granted his request. Of course, we think that Israel is taking too hostile an attitude towards the Egyptians. They recently attacked Egypt and they often make raids against them. The Intelligence units of the U. S. often use Jews who have fled, for their purposes and this is not good for our security. We do not want an honest man who goes to visit relatives to be turned into a traitor to his country. But these are only temporary difficulties which will be removed with the improvement of relations.
Question: But Egypt refuses to permit Israel boats to pass through the Suez Canal and the Gulf of Akaba and often raids Israel territory, and is there not blame on both sides?
Answer: Yes, it is a complicated question. You must understand the situation of the Arabs who lived on their own land and were forced out by Israel. They are suffering and cannot have good feeling towards Israel. Also there was the UN decision on the boundaries of Israel, but she violated these boundaries and grabbed territory. There needs to be cooperation on both sides to solve the problem.
Question: Can any minority group such as the Jews open a theatre anywhere in Russia Would you encourage this?
Answer: This is a very old question. There used to be many Yiddish theatres in many cities, Moscow, Odessa, Kiev, Lvov. During the war we lost many Jews. It was a tragedy. In Western Ukraine for example, which came over from Poland, large numbers of Jews paid money to the Nazis to escape and fell into the hands of the executioners. They were executed when they got to Poland. You have seen in your travels the culture and customs of many different republics: Georgia, Kazakistan and Uzbeckistan and Tajakistan. But the Jews are dispersed throughout the Soviet Union. We wanted to unite them and established Birobijan for this purpose. All that is left now in Birobijan are signs in Yiddish at the railroad stations but there are no Jews there.
There are many Jews in the government and even in the Central Committee of the Party. They are assimilated into the Russian culture and language. If we had seven year schools for Jews in the Jewish language where could the graduates go? We would have to establish ten year schools, special universities for them. Other Republics have their own territory and their own language and we encourage this but the Jews are dispersed and engulfed in the culture where they live. They enjoy all the benefits of the Republics where they live and complete equality in economic and political respects. What other freedoms can there be? They can live and work freely and there can be no greater freedom.
Our position is that it all depends upon the will of the Jews. If they want to create a state within our borders like Birobidjan nobody is against this and it exists to this day but the initiative must come from the Jews there. They could have their own language, school and traditions. The state language would be Jewish and they would have the benefits of anything they wanted. But to set up separate schools all over Russia would be too expense.