WASHINGTON (Sep. 17)
The State Department indicated today that the situation of the Jews in the Soviet Union was a subject of “continuing concern” to the United States Government and that the United States would work through the United Nations–which opened its 18th General Assembly today in New York–to improve conditions of Soviet Jewry.
Assistant Secretary of State Frederick G. Dutton, in a communication reporting extensively on the situation of the Jews in the USSR, said that all observers agreed that Soviet Jews were being placed under increasing restrictions with regard to religious worship. At the same time, he pointed out that the State Department “has no information that Soviet Jews fear the magnitude of physical persecution against them such as occurred during the Czarist regime or during the immediate post-war period under Stalin.”
The communication, addressed to Rep. Seymour Halpern, N. Y. Republican, made it clear that the State Department feels that anti-Semitic prejudices in the Soviet Union still persist. Mr. Dutton noted reports that the Moscow Jewish community will no longer have special burial facilities in consecrated ground, that the last kosher meat establishment in Moscow has been closed, and that three Jews were sentenced for alleged speculation in matzohs.
SEES DECLINE IN SOVIET ANTI-JEWISH PUBLICITY AT TRIALS
The State Department official said that there was “a marked decline over the past few months in the number of publicized trials involving defendants of Jewish background, ” and added that “the Department of State has noted that the attendant publicity less frequently has suggested an anti-Semitic bias.”
Mr. Dutton felt the “long term anti-religious campaign” in the Soviet Union has grown in intensity over the past several years and that “all religions, including the Jewish religion, are being subjected to increasing restrictions, forms of interference, and negative social pressures. ” He said that “in the case of the Jews these pressures prevent the normal maintenance and development of Jewish religious and cultural life.”
Emphasizing that the State Department viewed with “concern” the situation of the Jews in the Soviet Union, Mr. Dutton said that it preferred to intervene for them through the United Nations, because it believes that direct U.S. representations to the Soviet Government “would not be in the interests of Soviet Jews; these representations could in fact antagonize the Soviet Government to the detriment of Soviet Jews.”
Tracing past events, Mr. Dutton said there was “no doubt that Soviet press reports and commentary concerning some of the economic trials have been written in such a way as to emphasize the Jewish identity of some of the defendants, an emphasis which would not escape the attention of Soviet Jews or of those elements of the Soviet citizenry which retain strong anti-Semitic prejudices. Although the trials have also involved many persons with apparent Jewish background, other population elements, including non-Jewish Communist party members and public officials, have figured as defendants.”