UNITED NATIONS, N. Y (Jan. 16)
A three-pronged attack on Soviet discriminations against Jewish religious rights and practices was launched here today in the Subcommission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities.
The discriminations against the Jews of the Soviet Union in the religious sphere were stressed today by: 1. The introduction of a new draft declaration for elimination of all religious bias presented by the Indian member of the Subcommission, Arcot Krishnaswami; 2. A statement made on the floor of the Subcommission by Morris B. Abram, U. S. member, implying that the Soviet Union discriminates against Jews as an ethnic group; 3. A statement filed with the Subcommission Secretariat by Label A. Katz, national president of B’nai B’rith, on behalf of B’nai B’rith and the Board of Deputies of British Jews.
The official debate in the Subcommission today was centered on a proposed United Nations Convention outlawing all forms of racial, as distinct from religious intolerance. Two members of the Subcommission, one representing the Soviet Union and the other from Poland, have maneuvered the debate in such a way as to condemn racism without touching on religious bias. In the context of that debate, Mr. Abram cautioned the Subcommission that the proposed treaty must outlaw discriminations against ethnic groups as well as bias linked with race or color.
“The Nazis,” Mr. Abram pointed out, “made a speciality of ethnic discrimination. They prepared elaborate charts by which they graded ethnic groups into a system of values. At the top were the Aryans, lower came the Latins, still lower the Slavs, the Jews and the Gypsies. This vicious ladder of discrimination was undoubtedly one of the worst evils in the Nazi system and furnished the basis for the genocide campaign which destroyed millions of Jews, Poles, Russians and other Slavs.”
Then, obviously pointing at the Soviet Union, Mr. Abram noted that there are “some states where laws forbid discrimination in the most forceful forms” but where policies are carried on which “may well have the effect of obliterating an ethnic group.” Ethnic differences are absolutely dependent on language, schools, publications and other cultural institutions in order to survive. Cut an ethnic tradition off from these, and it will die, however nourished the body of the citizen is by food, clothing and shelter and however well treated he may otherwise be. An ethnic group has the right to survive as a group as well as individuals.”
We should be able to prohibit a state which makes provision for German-language schools for that ethnic group from denying Yiddish or Hebrew schools to its Jews,” he declared. “A state which can permit national and regional organizations of some ethnic groups must permit the same for others. A state which permits recognized leaders of every other group to travel abroad to conferences and Holy Places should not be able to deny that right to others. A state that finds facilities to publish textual materials in the language and traditions of some groups, should not be able to deny this right to any.”