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Gromyko Chides Critics of Moscow Policy on Jews; Cites Ten Commandments

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Jewish spiritual leaders who accuse the Soviet Union of persecuting Russian Jewry are playing a “shocking” and “ugly” role, knowing that their statements about Jewry in the USSR “are packed with lies,” according to an exclusive interview with Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei A. Gromyko, published here today by The Sentinel, Chicago Jewish weekly.

However, an editorial reply by J. I. Fishbein, editor of The Sentinel, reiterated the charges against the Soviet Union, detailing the accusations with factual evidence.

The interview with Mr. Gromyko, according to the newspaper, was obtained recently at the United Nations by Mandel Terman, a Chicago businessman who is chairman of the Chicago Council of American-Soviet Friendship. Present, according to Mr. Terman, was also Mikhail Menshikov, former Soviet Ambassador to Washington, who is now Foreign Minister of the Soviet Russian Federated Republic, largest component of the USSR. Mr. Terman quoted Mr. Gromyko as stating:

“I’m deeply shocked and saddened that at this late date in history–at a time when the hot fire of the cold war has turned to ashes–when the future for mankind has not looked as bright since the cold war began 17 years ago–I see your Jewish spiritual leaders grasp the dead hand of Adenauer and his revanchist and Hitler’s ex-generals and judges in a bitter end struggle that can only lead to the annihilation of the Jewish people everywhere together with the human race. How shocking! What an ugly role to play at this time! Why do they do this when they know their statements about Jewry in the USSR are packed with lies. In the Ten Commandments it says, I believe, ‘thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor.’ How spiritual can a man be who poisons the minds of his worshipers with lies?”

Mr. Menshikov, according to Mr. Terman, asked why the Jewish spiritual leaders do not quote a statement on the Jewish question, “given at great length” by Russia’s Prime Minister Nikita Khrushchev last March. The former Ambassador also asked why the Jewish leaders do not mention the naming of a Jew, Venyamin Dymshits, as vice-chairman of the USSR Council of Ministers and chairman of the USSR’s Economic Council which, he said, “is one of the three highest positions in our country.” (Both of these developments had been reported by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.)

SOVIET ENVOY ‘EXPLAINS’ WHY KHRUSHCHEV DOES NOT REPLY TO JEWS

Mr. Terman reported that he had also asked the Soviet diplomats why Mr. Khrushchev does not reply to the statements about anti-Jewish persecutions made by Jewish leaders. The Chicagoan reported that Mr. Menshikov cited the Soviet Premier’s replies on that subject to Lord Betrrand Russel, instead of to Jewish leaders, because “in short, he doesn’t trust people noted for their hostility to the Soviet Union, no matter what their religion or faith.”

Discussing the Gromyko-Menshikov statements, Mr. Fishbein declared editorially:

“Despite the turmoil that has raged about this controversy during the past decade, the Soviets either will not or can not comprehend our concern. They continue to fall back on the hack-worn constitutional guarantee against anti-Semitism as if that in itself should resolve the entire problem for us. Against those Jews who disagree–which includes 99 and 9/10 percent–they hurl the charge of “war monger,” “cold war warrior,” “anti-Sovieteer,” etc. This is supposed to silence worldwide public opinion that has been protesting the steady deterioration of Jewish life in the Soviet Union ever since the closing days of the Stalin terror.

“What the Soviet authorities do not seem to be willing to face is the special discrimination meted out to the Jewish minority. Why, for example, after all these years, was it necessary to eliminate the baking of matzo? Or why should the Baptists and other religious groups be permitted to print their Bibles while the same right is denied to Jews? We can testify that, wherever we went in the Soviet Union, Jews asked us for Hebrew calendars. They have all kinds of printing presses in that country. How much would it take to print up 100,000 of these, so that religious Jews can know when to say Yiskor?”

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