PHILADELPHIA (Apr. 18)
A six-point Declaration of Rights for Russian Jewry was adopted here today at the concluding session of the two-day meeting of the American Jewish Conference on Soviet Jewry. It was signed by the presidents and chairmen of 25 national Jewish religious and secular organizations in historic Congress Hall where, in 1791, the American Bill of Rights was formally adopted.
Declaring that American Jewry does “solemnly pledge that, so long as Soviet Jews are cut off from the Jewish people, proscribed from living their lives as Jews, so long will our voices be lifted in protest and indignation.” the Declaration called upon the Government of the USSR to:
1. Restore its Jewish citizens to a position of equality with all other nationalities;
2. Permit its Jewish citizens freely to practice, enhance and perpetuate their culture and religion by removing all discriminatory measures designed to restrict this freedom.
3. Make available all the institutions, the schools, the text books and the materials necessary to reach Jewish children the languages, the history, the beliefs, the practices and the aspirations of the Jewish people;
4. Permit the Jews of the USSR freely to develop Jewish groups and to associate and work with Jewish groups inside and outside the Soviet Union;
5. Use all the means at its disposal to eradicate anti-Semitism; and
6. Permit Soviet Jewish families, separated as a result of the Nazi holocaust, to be reunited with their relatives abroad.
In presenting the Declaration to delegates for formal adoption, Mrs. Mortimer Jacobson, national president of Hadassah, said: “This Conference on behalf of Jews in the USSR is a demonstration of American democracy in action. The American ideal of a Great Society, projected by President Johnson, is not a literary exercise. It is a working blueprint for the pursuit of universal freedom, equality and justice for the human rights of human beings everywhere. Nor is the cultural and religious heritage of the Jewish people a museum piece. It is a way of life for the Jewish people. We will not rest until the Jews of the USSR are free to make it their way of life.”
PECULIAR NATURE OF SOVIET DISCRIMINATION AGAINST JEWS STRESSED
Dr. Joachim Prinz, president of the American Jewish Congress, presided at the meeting inside Congress Hall. Explaining the peculiar nature of the Soviet discriminations against its Jews, Dr. Prinz said: “The attack upon Soviet Jewish institutions represents a special form of the tragedy of European Jewry in this century. It is not an attack upon the physical safety of Russian Jews. It is not to be analogized to the monstrous and unspeakable crimes of Nazi Germany. There does not exist in the Soviet Union anything like the relentless racism which pursued Jews down the generations for the purpose of bringing about their imprisonment in camps and their destruction in crematoria. This incomparable barbarism at least has not returned.
“But there are values in addition to physical life which we cherish and treasure and whose support is a common human responsibility. Our anguish cannot be mitigated by the consoling fact that this vital part of the surviving Jewish remnant faces only spiritual and cultural strangulation, and not outright physical destruction. We reject all efforts forcibly to destroy Jewish life whether it be by the brutality and bestiality of the Hitler era or by the subtler, more boning methods of cultural and religious deprivation.”
Prior to the formal signing of the Declaration inside the hallowed halls of Congress Hall, the delegates held an open air meeting on Independence Mall, where the speakers were Senator Hugh Scott of Pennsylvania; Roy Wilkins, executive director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; and Morris B. Abram, president of the American Jewish Committee, who presided.
ABRAM DENIES SOVIET CONTENTION ON JEWS; HOPES FOR POLICY CHANGE
In introducing the speakers at the meeting on the Mall, Mr. Abram who is also the U.S. representative to the United Nations Human Rights Commission, denied the Soviet contention that the Jews in Russia “don’t want to be Jews any more.” At the same time he said that the outlook for a change of Soviet policy on Jews is not all black. “I choose to believe that the situation of the Jews in the Soviet Union is not futile so long as the Russian sensitivity to public opinion — just as is our own — is as enormous as it is,” he stated.
Sen. Scott hailed the conference, saying that public protestations against Soviet anti-Semitism constitute “life insurance” for the 3,000,000 Soviet Jews. “I feel a deep sense of personal obligation in joining with you today in protesting Soviet anti-Semitism,” he stated. Speakers at the conference included also Aaron Goldman, chairman of the National Community Relations Advisory Council; Dr. William A. Wexler, international president of B’nai B’rith; and Dr. Aaron Glanz-Leyeless, president of the Yiddish P.E.N. club.