WASHINGTON (Sep. 28)
The Senate adopted by a vote of 60 to one, Senate resolution 204, introduced by Sen. Abraham Ribicoff, Connecticut Democrat, expressing the sense of Congress that persecution of Soviet Jewry was offensive to decency and humanity.
The resolution provided that “persecution of any person because of their religion by the Soviet Union be condemned, and that the Soviet Union, in the name of decency and humanity, cease executing persons for alleged economic offenses, and fully permit the free exercise of religion and the pursuit of culture by Jews and all others within its borders.”
The resolution resulted from a meeting in Washington last April 24 of major American Jewish organizations concerned about the rise of anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union. The Ribicoff resolution was introduced as an amendment to a pending foreign bill, providing a legislative means for voicing the views Sen. Ribicoff originally intended to be expressed in a Senate resolution.
Opposition to the amendment was voiced by Sen. K.W. Fulbright, the Arkansas Democrat who is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He urged a substitute amendment broadened to include condemnation of persecution of all religious sects anywhere in the world. “I do not know why we should be so exclusive as to restrict the condemnation only to the persecution of the Jews,” Sen. Fulbright said.
Sen. Ribicoff charged that what Sen. Fulbright was attempting was to “completely undercut the original resolution and take the Soviet Union ‘off the hook.’” He went on to explain the unusual plight of Soviet Jewry and told how his amendment was aimed at meeting the specific problem of the Jews.
Sen. Fulbright opposed the Ribicoff amendment with the statement that the State Department, in a letter signed by Assistant Secretary of State Frederick G. Dutton, said “the Department does not recommend adoption of a resolution such as Senate Resolution 204. ” The reason Resolution 204 was acted on as an amendment was the refusal of Sen. Fulbright to report the proposed resolution out of his Foreign Relations Committee.
Speaking for the State Department, Mr. Dutton declared that “given the uncertainty of the present situation in the Soviet Union, any such intervention as that proposed by Senate Resolution 204 might be seized upon by the Soviet authorities to show that they are in fact able to act independently and might lead them to take the very action against the Jewish people of the Soviet Union which we are trying to prevent.”