GENEVA (Jun. 26)
A slashing attack by an American delegate on anti Jewish discrimination in the Soviet Union spotlighted the session today at the current meeting of the International Labor Organization.
Bert Seidman, the United States delegate, said the matter was properly one for consideration by the specialized United Nations Agency because “the listing of ethnic extraction in any document required for employment a practice of Soviet officials–is in itself incompatible with the principle of non-discrimination in employment and occupation.”
Mr. Seidman was immediately denounced by the Soviet delegate, Semione Ivanov, who accused the American delegate of lying. Chayim Raday, an Israeli delegate, associated himself with the American’s charges, although the Israeli was careful not to refer to the Soviet Union by name.
“The whole world now knows about the resurgence of anti Semitism in the USSR, where there is a conscious and determined policy of holding Jews up to public opprobrium and of denying Jews both the opportunity for religious expression and for equal treatment in education and employment,” Mr. Seidman stated. “The Jew is a second class citizen in the Soviet Union and Soviet Jews are considered as a national entity only when it is to their disadvantage.”
The Soviet delegate retorted that “Mr. Seidman’s allegation that there is discrimination against the Jews in the Soviet Union is an invention, a falsehood and an irresponsible statement.”
He was supported by Pepo Cohen, Government adviser from Bulgaria, who declared that “all the Bulgarian Jews were saved by the Communist party and the Bulgarian people” during the Nazi period. “In the socialist countries for the first time in recent history, the Jews are really free and have access to all posts and functions without discrimination,” the Bulgarian delegate said. “The true bastions against anti-Semitism and discrimination of every kind are the socialist countries and particularly the Soviet Union. “
The Israeli delegate declared that it would be “well understood” that the subject of discrimination against the Jewish minority “in a certain important member state of ILO” was of special concern to the Israeli delegation. He said that while it might be argued that religious or ethnic discrimination was irrelevant to discrimination in employment, “we all know that discrimination is in fact indivisible. “
“Where there is a numerous clauses limiting opportunities for professional and academic training, applied according to written regulations, there can be and there exists a numerous clause de facto, ” he stated.
The Israeli delegate added that in discussing applications of international agreements, “the important aspect of performance in actual life of the indivisible principle of non discrimination should be foremost” in the minds of the delegates. In that respect, he stated, the Israeli delegation welcomed the fact that “the issue has been raised, pointing to an important area of discriminatory practices among member states of this organization, which certainly warrants serious further study and concern.”