FLORENCE, Italy (Jun. 22)
The situation of the Jews in the Soviet Union came up for discussion today at Fourth Mediterranean Conference which is being held here. The discussion developed following reports presented by delegates on religious and cultural discrimination in European Communist countries.
Jacques Nantes, of France, told the delegates at great length of the suppression of Jewish culture and religion in the Soviet Union. He cited a great number of facts to illustrate the present situation of Soviet Jews and the unequal treatment they are accorded as compared with the treatment of other national minorities in the Soviet Union.
The speaker reported that the percentage of Jewish students in Soviet universities fell from 13 to three percent during the last ten years. He pointed out that the mailing of a Bible to individuals in Soviet Russia–even to a rabbi–is considered an illegal act. He emphasized that the reprinting of the Hebrew Bible has been banned since 1917, when the Communist Party came to power.
The French delegate suggested that the Conference should adopt a resolution requesting the Soviet Union and other Communist countries to permit the emigration of people desiring to be reunited with their relatives in other countries.
The report of the French delegate was supplemented by M. Garosci, a delegate from Italy, who also went to great length to depict the suppression of Jewish culture and religion in the Soviet Union. He emphasized that he is convinced that the more the world will insist that the Moscow Government treats its Jewish citizens equally with other minorities in the USSR, the better the chances for success.
NEXT CONFERENCE TO BE DEVOTED TO ARAB-ISRAEL PROBLEMS
The next Mediterranean Conference will be devoted exclusively to the differences between Israel and her Arab neighbors. This was decided late today by the board of directors of the Conference as a result of wishes expressed by delegates.
Several delegates asked for a discussion of the Palestine refugees’ problem but Mayor La Pira of Florence, who addressed today’s session, appealed not to take up this question calling it “a wound in the process of healing.”
One of Israel’s representatives, Professor J. Prawer of the Hebrew University, declared himself ready to discuss the Arab-Israeli problems and warned against “running away” from these problems. Delegate Fenner Brockway, Laborite member of the British Parliament, favored a discussion of the Arab-Israel issue at the Conference.
Following the debate, Joe Golan, an Israeli and secretary of the Conference announced the board’s recommendation not to discuss the question. The assembly then voted unanimously to support the board’s stand. The board will meet in January 1965 to set a date for the next Conference.