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Israel Attacks Soviet Discrimination Against Jews at U.N. Debate

Israel today delivered a sharp attack against the Soviet Union’s anti-Jewish discriminations in an address before a General Assembly committee meeting debating human rights.

Dr. Eliezer Yapou, Israel’s representative on the Assembly’s Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee, took the floor this morning during the committee’s debate of a proposed United Nations declaration on “the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination.”

Protesting against separating racial discrimination from religions bias–which has been set down as a separate item on the same committee’s agenda–Dr. Yapou told the committee that the various human rights issues should be debated as a whole. He noted that very often ethnic and religious discriminations are practiced together.

“Our generation has witnessed both these manifestations, ” he stated. “Today, within the borders of a great country, the Jewish minority is being denied the freedom and facilities to practice its ancient faith, to maintain and foster its cultural traditions, its language and literature. It is deprived of the prerogatives still extended to other faiths such as the production of sacred books and articles, the training of clerics and the essential contact between the different local communities within that country or between them and their brethren elsewhere.”

Aiming directly at the Soviet Union but without mentioning the USSR by name, Dr. Yapou continued detailing the fate of Russian Jewry. “Their houses of worship, ” he said, “are being systematically shut down, their separate burial facilities are being denied, they are being made the scapegoats for economic crises. In short, it has become a matter of official policy to stamp out the heritage and beliefs of a particular ethnic group–in spite of the fact that the members of this group are formally described in their documents of identity as being Jewish in nationality.

“The situation I have described obviously straddles the unmarked border between racial and religious problems, ” the Israeli diplomat pointed out. “The draft text before us should be carefully studied in this respect in order to avoid any undue narrowness or rigidity. ” He advised the committee to alter the text of the draft declaration to include “the right of an ethnic minority to preserve its religious, cultural and linguistic identity.”

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