State Dept. Rejects Jewish Request for Matzo Deal with Russia
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State Dept. Rejects Jewish Request for Matzo Deal with Russia

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The State Department, speaking at the request of the White House, today rejected a suggestion by Rep. Leonard Farbstein, New York Democrat, that the Soviet Union should be asked to lift restrictions on matzo baking in connection with the sale of American wheat to that country.

Robert E. Lee, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, said in a letter to Rep. Farbstein that, “even if it were practicable to impose additional conditions at the present advanced stage of the commercial negotiations, the United States Government would oppose a consumer-use requirement as likely to prejudice seriously the successful conclusion of a transaction believed to be in the interests of the United States.”

Mr. Lee said that, “because of the unfavorable reactions of the Soviet authorities to any approaches which the United States Government has made in the past on the behalf of Soviet Jews, it is the Department’s belief that formal United States Government representations would not be in their best interests.”

The Department expressed belief that “the course of action most likely to bring about a change in Soviet policies affecting the situation of Soviet Jews lies in appeals by private organizations and individuals to the Soviet authorities. Such appeals may heighten Soviet sensitivity on this subject, and may encourage a decrease in Soviet activity against these unfortunate people.”

A suggestion was made by the State Department that “serious thought might be given to a united appeal of private organizations representing worldwide Jewry and, if possible, other religious groups.”

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