NEW YORK (Jun. 10)
Experts on the Jewish situation in the Soviet Union today took issue with statements made by Nikita Khrushchev, Soviet Premier, on Jewish issues as related in the verbatim record published yesterday by a group of Americans who discussed various problems with him in at Kremlin interview, including the problem of Jewish rights in the USSR and the possibility of permitting emigration of Soviet Jews to Israel.
The experts pointed out that in his answers to the questions put to him by the American group, which included businessmen and professionals, the Soviet Premier repeated a number of assertions he made in the past to delegations, Communist and non-Communist, who inquired about the plight of Soviet Jews.
It was emphasized by the experts that the fact remains that Jews are not permitted to leave Russia for Israel, with the exception of an occasional elderly person permitted to join relatives. Mr. Khrushchev’s reference to “permission for three Jews to leave the Soviet Union” on a special plea from the Prime Minister of Denmark was cited as proving this point. His allegation that Jews who left Russia have been used by “intelligence units of the U.S.”was termed as being”without basis in fact and another example of the various rationales contrived by Soviet leadership to deny the Jews the right to leave the USSR.”
The experts pointed out that Khrushchev, in his statement, blames the closing of Yiddish theatres in the USSR upon the war, but makes no reference to Stalin’s persecutions which resulted in the liquidation of hundreds of Yiddish intellectuals, artists and writers. Furthermore, he shows no indication in his statement that he intends to rectify this situation. To his claim that “all depends upon the will of the Jews” and “their initiative, ” the experts ask: “How can this will be exercised without a clear statement from Mr. Khrushchev that the Jews can act with impunity and that the government would extend its fullest cooperation?”
The Soviet Writers Association and Communists abroad have been among those who pleaded for the restoration of Yiddish publishing facilities in the USSR, but Mr. Khrushchev has ignored these pleas, the experts stressed. They pointed out that the bulk of Soviet Jewry is concentrated in several cities and it would be a simple matter to re-open schools, theatres and newspapers in those cities. Such practice was not found to be “too expensive” in the 1920s, they stated.
“It is shocking to read that the liquidation of a culture has been justified on budgetary grounds, ” one of the experts declared. “Mr. Khrushchev’s statements confirm the fact that five years after Stalin’s death nothing has been done by the Soviet authorities to rectify his horrendous wrongs against the Jews.”