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Eisenhower Discussed Soviet Jewry with Khrushchev, White House Reveals

Reports which were circulating in some circles here to the effect that President Eisenhower personally had raised questions on the status of the Jews in the Soviet Union in his talks with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev at Camp David were confirmed in a letter from the White House made public here today by the B’nai B’rith.

Gen. Wilton B. Persons, assistant to the President, addressed the letter to Label A. Katz, national president of B’nai B’rith, informing him that President Eisenhower had discussed the controversial subject with Mr. Khrushchev. American Jewish leaders were unable to meet with the Soviet Premier for the same purpose during Mr. Khrushchev’s tour of the United States.

Mr. Khrushchev told the President that he had been aware of the question, Gen. Persons said, “but that it was his position that, so far as possible, the Jewish people in the Soviet Union are treated like everyone else.” This response, in effect, was similar to the answer Mr. Khrushchev gave to a question prepared by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency and asked of him at his televised appearance before the National Press Club here.

“The President,” Gen. Persons informed Mr. Katz, “then informed Mr. Khrushchev of the concern that had been expressed to him by representatives of the Jewish people in the United States over the situation of the Jewish people in the Soviet Union.”

Mr. Katz lauded the President’s intervention, saying that it probably left a “significant impression” on the Soviet Premier, and “this can only have a very favorable effect on the future cultural and religious existence of Jews in the Soviet Union.” The B’nai B’rith head said that the President had “rendered the Jewish community a great service.”

The B’nai B’rith leader disclosed today that, following his meeting with President Eisenhower on September 23, shortly before the start of the Camp David talks, he had “left the White House with the impression that the President had placed the subject of Soviet Jews on the Camp David agenda.” Mr. Katz, Maurice Bisgyer, executive vice president of B’nai B’rith, and Mrs. Charles D. Solovich, president of B’nai B’rith Women, had met with Mr. Eisenhower to present him with the B’nai B’rith President’s medal for his efforts in preserving world peace.

“At that time,” Mr. Katz said today, “we expressed to the President the concern of American Jews for the erosion of the religious and cultural community of Jews in Soviet Russia. It was then indicated to us that the President was highly conversant with the subject.”

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