Menu JTA Search

Israel Presents Detailed Picture to U.N. Body on Soviet Anti-semitism

A detailed picture of Moscow’s discrimination against Soviet Jews was presented here yesterday at the current meeting of the United Nations Economic and Social Council by Moshe Bartur, head of Israel’s Permanent Mission to the European Office of the United Nations.

Joining the delegates from the United States, Britain and France in their denunciation of Soviet mistreatment of Jews, Mr. Bartur–like the other speakers–did not mention the Soviet Union by name, in accordance with the UN rules, when he spoke before the Social Committee of the ECOSOC in the debate on furthering human rights. However, he said:

“One should not be afraid to call a spade a spade or to call anti-Semitism just that. I am referring especially to the most disturbing situation in one major European country which claims that its constitution and its basic social philosophy precludes manifestations of discrimination and of anti-Semitism. One would hope indeed that enlightened constitutions and philosophies should have this effect, but, alas, for the people affected it is not constitutions or philosophies which matter, as long as they experience intolerable discrimination in daily life and practice.”

Pointing out that he speaks of a country where there are 3,000,000 Jews, the Israeli representative said that these Jews “suffer both as a group and as individuals.” They are being denied, he stated, equality in the administration of justice, freedom to leave their country, and religious freedom:

“This community,” Mr. Bartur continued, “is connected through family ties to many other Jewish communities throughout the world. There are few Jewish families in Israel or in the United States who do not have a relative in the country referred to. They are almost completely cut off, not only from their own rich past, not only prevented from sharing in the cultural and religious Jewish activities abroad but likewise from their flesh and blood. They are not in a position to communicate with their relatives abroad.”

APPEALS TO U. N. FOR URGENT ACTION ON JEWISH RIGHTS IN RUSSIA

He cited the official and total ban on the teaching of Hebrew, and said that Jewish places of worship “are constantly shut down, prayer books are not available, ritual requirements–like unleavened bread for Passover–are denied to them. This attitude creates a climate of virulent anti-Semitism accompanied by campaigns in the official press of that country.”

The Israeli envoy quoted from Lord Bertrand Russell’s recent letter to Izvestia, which the Moscow government organ refused to publicize, in which the British philosopher said: “I hope that Jews would be permitted full cultural lives, religious freedom and rights of a national group in practice as well as in law.” The envoy also cited Lord Russell’s statement that he was “gravely disturbed” by the fact that 60 per cent of those executed in the Soviet Union for “economic crimes” were Jews.

Appealing to the conscience of the world, the Israeli representative said: “In spite of the natural desire to avoid unpleasant subjects where powerful political forces are concerned, the limitations described are so disturbing that it would mean a failure in moral duty and responsibility to belittle its grave character. We trust that the United Nations, through its Commission on Human Rights, will respond to the urgent and grave nature of this problem with the greatest speed to help restore the rights and aspirations of a great and isolated community.”

A resolution involving the status of Soviet Jews, aimed at assuring consideration at the 1964 session of the United Nations Human Rights Commission of a declaration on religious intolerance, was adopted here unanimously at a conference of non-governmental organizations having consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council. The Soviet delegates at the 1963 Human Rights Commission session blocked such a declaration.

The resolution, which was offered by Dr. Maurice L. Perlzweig for the World Jewish Congress, noted that the last session of the UN General Assembly found it necessary to record that it was “deeply disturbed by manifestations of discrimination based on differences of race, color and religion still in evidence throughout the world.”

The resolution addressed “the most urgent appeal” to ECOSOC to ensure that the 1964 meeting of the Human Rights Commission “shall take place, and to this end authorize changes in the time and place of the meeting to overcome technical difficulties.” The issue of the situation of Soviet Jewry was raised by several delegations at the last meeting of the Human Rights Commission, but the Soviet Union managed to postpone preparation of a declaration on religious intolerance to the next year.

NEXT STORY