Rome Conference Appeals to Moscow for Equal Rights to Soviet Jews
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Rome Conference Appeals to Moscow for Equal Rights to Soviet Jews

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The Soviet Union was urged today, at the close of a conference of Italian intellectuals on the situation of Russian Jewry, to restore to its Jewish citizens equality of rights.

The resolution asserted that Soviet Jews were still subjected to various forms of discrimination and persecution, that injustices were done to Jews in the cultural field and that thousands of divided Jewish families were still unable to reunite with relatives in Israel and elsewhere.

The resolution also charged that demagogic campaigns were regularly launched in the Soviet press bearing an outwardly anti-religious character which tended to create mistrust and contempt toward Russian Jews. Such conditions were worsened, the resolution declared, by unremitting denunciation of Russian Jews as “economic offenders” and by their persecution by state security police which was often followed by death sentences.

Declaring that such policies of denials of human rights were in conflict with Great Power efforts to reconcile their differences, the delegates asked the Soviet Union, in its own interest and in the interest of peace and better understanding among the nations, to end such restrictions. They also called on Soviet authorities to permit reunion of Jewish families and to halt the “unjust campaigns and doubtful repressions of economic activities called illegal.”


The delegates also invited world opinion to join in efforts to spread information on the fate of Soviet Jewry and to obtain help for them, in this way serving the interest of peace among nations and of humanity in general. The conference was the second on the theme in Rome.

The resolution was proposed by Prof. Aldo Garosci of the University of Rome, who charged that in so-called economic crimes, Russian state authority police directed their activities more against Jews than at any other section of the Soviet population.

He said that of 149 death sentences passed on alleged economic criminals, 60 percent were inflicted on Jews. In the Ukraine, he said, the percentage of Jewish victims runs from 80 to 90 percent. He also reported that an “extremely violent” campaign was underway in the Soviet press against persons with Jewish names who are accused of “speculation” and “servility to foreigners. ” However, he added, the most enlightened Soviet intellectuals were hoping there would be an end to Russian anti-Semitism.

In introducing the resolution, he said the issue was “fundamental. It is a measure of the reality of the world’s hopes for reconciliation between the East and the West in the interests of peace and humanity. ” The scholar also reviewed the sources of the Soviet anti-Jewish bias and its “paradoxical consequences. ” He said that Jews were deprived of the right to live as a national group–a right conceded in Russia even to the smallest communities–but suffered discrimination as a group in many areas.

Other speakers cited the Soviet Union’s pro-Arab policies and the anti-Semitism of the Slav world which they said has never disappeared. They stressed the age-old fate of the Jews to be a scapegoat for economic difficulties. Death sentences imposed on Russian Jews for “economic crimes” were strongly criticized and refuted by the speakers. A message was received from Lord Bertrand Russell, lauding the goals of the conference and expressing hope for its success. Lord Russell sent appeals last year twice to Soviet Premier Khrushchev on behalf of Soviet Jewry.

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