NEW YORK (Aug. 6)
On the eve of the expected visit to the United States of Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, the American Jewish Committee issued today a comprehensive report on the policy of repression and discrimination against Jews in the Soviet Union and its satellites, practiced since the end of World War II.
In making this report public, Herbert B. Ehmann, president of the American Jewish Committee, said that the Jews in the Soviet Union and its satellites are subject to “discriminations and disabilities which blight their daily lives. ” He warned that “official Soviet policy threatened the extinctions of the Jewish religion and culture in a vast region of the earth.”
Emphasizing that the plight of the Jews in the Communist countries “is grave and complex, ” the American Jewish Committee president put forth a program of action developed on the basis of the following four main principles.
1. Equality of rights for Jews in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union in law and in fact within the framework of the existing social and economic system, although “equality under this system is not consonant with the American concept of freedom.”
2. The right of Jews to emigrate freely to places of their choice with all their possessions.
3. In accordance with its paramount concern for the individual human being and its conviction that emigration should be completely voluntary, the AJC continues to oppose all compulsion on the individual to uproot himself.
4. The AJC will join with other organizations. Jewish and non-Jewish, in seeking private, governmental, and inter-governmental aid for the assistance of emigrants from Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union and influence the promotion of liberalized immigration opportunities in the U. S. and other countries.
The Jewish community in the Soviet Union is “kept organizationally in an atomized condition.” Mr. Ehrmann said, “There is no federation of Jewish communities and practically no communication among local congregations. There are only some 60 rabbis, all of them old–one rabbi for every 50, 000 Jews in the Soviet Union–most of them officiating in rented rooms which substitute for synagogues. Not a single synagogue has been built or returned to a Jewish congregation.
“The Jewish population is permitted neither schools nor theatres nor the publication of books and newspapers except on very rare occasions. This virtually complete blackout of a once flourishing and lively culture is paralleled by equally serious discrimination in jobs, education and public life, ” Mr. Ehrmann stressed.
STRESS “PARADOXICAL” NATURE OF JEWISH SITUATION IN SOVIET UNION
The American Jewish Committee report establishes that in education, the number of Jewish students admitted to institutions of higher learning is systematically limited. “No Jew is known to be in the foreign service of the USSR, in the higher ranks of the armed forces, or in the military, air and naval academies, ” the report says. “Even in such matters as the distinguished service record of World War II, the official Soviet publication omitted Jews entirely in listing soldiers who have received high military honors for bravery, though in April 1944, they were in third place among the “nationalities” thus honored in the struggle with Nazi Germany.”
In a section on the Soviet nationality system and the status of the Jews, the report points out that the Soviet Union does not recognize religious minorities. Jews are considered “a nationality” and are so designated on individual identity passports which all citizens must possess. The report stresses the “paradoxical” nature of the Jewish situation since “on the one hand they are compelled to retain Jewish nationality status; on the other hand their cultural group is stifled.”
The Soviet experiment at Birobidzhan in Asia which was planned as a Jewish national settlement area, is clearly a “failure,” the report said.