U.S. Gives ‘high Priority’ Attention to Anti-semitic Acts in Russia
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U.S. Gives ‘high Priority’ Attention to Anti-semitic Acts in Russia

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Anti-Semitic developments in the Soviet Union are now receiving “a high priority of attention” from the State Department’s Soviet affairs experts, and American concern has been made known at “the highest levels of the Soviet Government, “it was revealed today by the Department of State.

In a letter to National Commander Morton London, of the Jewish War Veterans of the United States, written on behalf of Secretary of State Dean Rusk, State Department public services official Edward A. Karnacki reported on the Soviet Jewish problem. The Jewish veterans, concerned about events, had requested a report on State Department activity in this area and urged new moves to relieve persecution of Soviet Jews.

Mr. Karnacki replied that the Department “cannot stress too strongly our Government’s disapproval of the pressures which the Soviet Government brings to bear” against the Jewish and other faiths. “In the case of the Jews,” he said, “these pressures are such as to prevent the normal maintenance and development of Jewish religious and cultural life.” He made known that the increased discrimination had become “a matter of deep concern to the Department.”


Reviewing events in the post-Stalin period, Mr. Karnacki cited intensified anti-religious propaganda, the increased application of social pressures, administrative restrictions and legal impediments as in the case of the ban on matzoth baking and occasional trials of religious figures on ordinary criminal charges.

He said that reports had been received by the Department “officially and from private observers” that anti-Semitism exists “in many areas of the Soviet Union.” The State Department has established that “Jewish religious activities have been curtailed to the point where functioning synagogues are a rarity and opportunities to train and educate Jewish religious leaders have been practically eliminated.”

It appeared to the Department that Soviet Jews “are receiving a disproportionate amount of condemnation and victimization” in the Soviet campaign against private speculation in goods and illegal transactions. Compared to the members of other ethnic or minority groups, the Jews are being disproportionately singled out for harsh treatment.

“While the Department has no basis upon which to assess the authenticity of the charges made against the defendants in these trials, the publicity given the trials will in all probability have the effect of buttressing already existing anti-Semitic prejudices through the association of identifiably Jewish persons with economic violations,” said Mr. Karnacki.


The official made known that “the highest levels of the Soviet Government have been told of our concern over this problem and efforts made to arrange meetings with representatives of American Jewish organizations.” He added that “unfortunately, these efforts have been to little avail thus far.”

The Department noted that “it is difficult for our Government to contribute to the direct solutions of the problem of minorities in a territory where a foreign sovereign government exercises full control. Many prominent members of American-Jewish organizations have agreed with us that it is doubtful if further protestations by the United States Government would be helpful to the Jews in the Soviet Union. The Soviet Government has frequently accused Soviet Jews of being under the supposedly sinister influence of foreign governments, including the United States.”

Therefore, the Department feels that official intervention on behalf of the Soviet Jews could give the Kremlin an excuse to emphasize anti-Jewish charges “to the disadvantage of Soviet Jewry.” Instead, according to Mr. Karnacki, the United States Government supports actions through the United Nations and stresses the important role of private organizations and individuals “in bringing such persecution to the notice of world opinion.”

“To a degree,” said Mr. Karnacki, “the Soviet Government is susceptible to the influence of world opinion in such matters.” He pointed out that the United Nations Commission on Human Rights decided as a result of American initiative to include information from non-governmental organizations in consultative status in its next series of periodic reports.

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