Johnson Expresses ‘deep Concern’ over Position of Jews in Russia
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Johnson Expresses ‘deep Concern’ over Position of Jews in Russia

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President Johnson declared last night that “the position of the Jewish community in the Soviet Union is a matter of deep and continuing concern to me, to this administration and to millions of thoughtful people throughout the United States.”

The President stated his views in a telegram to a protest meeting of 2, 500 leading New York Jews, representing 26 major national and local Jewish organizations, which was sponsored by the New York Conference on Soviet Jewry. The meeting ended with a march by the participants to the Soviet Mission to the United Nations, where an unsuccessful effort was made to give Mission officials a list of 18 requests for action by the Soviet Government to restore cultural and religious rights of the 3, 000, 000 Russian Jews.

President Johnson’s message was read to the meeting by former Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, who is running as Democratic candidate for the U. S. Senate from New York. Sen. Kenneth B. Keating, New York Republican Senator, also attended the meeting. Both spoke on the plight of Soviet Jewry, and Sen. Keating later joined the procession to the USSR Mission.

In his message, President Johnson warned that “we cannot ignore the existence of religious or racial persecution anywhere in the world.” He noted that “anti-Semitism in Russia is a long-standing historical tragedy. Its roots go deep into the Czarist era.” He said there have been periods of “relative restraint” in mistreatment of Russian Jews “but in the Soviet Union today, there is grave governmental, social and economic pressure against Jewish cultural and religious identity.”


“All responsible officials in our government continue to search for practical methods of alleviating the position of Soviet Jews,” he added. “Thus in February of this year, I instructed Mrs. Marietta Tree, the United States representative on the Human Rights Commission, to propose an article on anti-Semitism. Over the vigorous objections of the Soviet delegate, the following article was adopted for consideration by the UN General Assembly this fall: ‘States-parties condemn anti-Semitism and shall take action as appropriate for its speedy eradication in the territories subject to their jurisdiction.’ “

The President asserted that “the moral judgment of millions of people throughout the world cannot be ignored by any government.”

Mr. Kennedy said that, if he was elected, he would press for a Senate resolution condemning anti-Semitism. He also said that he would “urge the United Nations Commission on Human Rights to take action and condemn these practices. This issue should be put on the agenda of American foreign policy for action by all appropriate government agencies and the United States Information Agency,” he declared.

Sen; Keating told the gathering that “as an American and as a Christian, I welcome this opportunity to join you in speaking out against violations of the sacred human rights of religious worship and I pledge my fullest support in your efforts to preserve these sacred rights.”

When the procession neared the Soviet Mission, four Jewish leaders and Sen. Keating tried to gain admission. Someone inside refused to open the door and instructed the callers to place an envelope containing their petition under the door. The group waited a few minutes after doing so but the door remained closed and they left. The marchers dispersed a few minutes afterwards.

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