Jews Gather Near the White House; Protest Soviet Treatment of Jews

A crowd of over 500, led by the presidents of 25 national Jewish organizations, gathered near the White House today to hear two senators and others urge continued protests against Soviet anti-Jewish policies. The organization presidents later conveyed their concern for the future of Russian Jewry to the White House. They were received by Presidential assistant Walt. W. Rostow.

Sen. Abraham Ribicoff, Connecticut Democrat, told in his address of new incidents of anti-Jewish bias. “These cases stand out in bold relief against a background of unfulfilled promises, ” he said, adding that some “token concessions” were made by Soviet authorities but that “the list of grievances is long. Until a better, freer life is the way of the Soviet Jew’s life–we cannot take the promises of Soviet officials at face value–we cannot take their denials of discrimination to heart.” He strongly urged that protests continue.

Sen. Jacob K. Javits, New York Republican, stressed that “what we say here has meaning and effect.” He cited a measure of success achieved by previous protests and said new strength must be given to expressions of concern. President William A. Wexler of B’nai B’rith said “we are here today to help strengthen the survivalist spirit–to tell the Soviet Jew, in whatever way he can hear us, that we are linked with his destiny.” He called for new efforts to mobilize world public opinion to alleviate the plight of Russian Jewry.

Rabbi Israel Miller, chairman of the American Jewish Conference for Soviet Jewry, detailed the various discriminations imposed by Soviet authorities. He reported that since last year’s rally in Washington “peripheral concessions have been made by the Russian authorities, but the central problem remains.”

WHITE HOUSE SENTIMENTS EXPRESSED BY HIGH OFFICIAL

Mr. Rostow, Presidential assistant, was quoted later by Jewish leaders who met with him at the White House as indicating hope that the Soviet Union would accord Jews the religious facilities available in other East European Communist states. A statement issued by Rabbi Miller said:

“Mr. Rostow recalled that on this very day a year ago, September 19, the President expressed his deep and continuing concern about the discriminations imposed upon Soviet Jewry by the Soviet Government. He cited recent developments in Eastern Europe as indications of how Communist societies have moved to enable Jewish communities to preserve their identity and transmit their heritage. He expressed the hope that such developments would soon be paralleled in the Soviet Union.”

Rabbi Miller, accompanied by leaders of 25 national Jewish organizations, assured the White House that Jews would persevere in their efforts to ameliorate the plight of coreligionists in the Soviet Union. An agreement on the current situation was made at the meeting. Rabbi Miller, on behalf of the group, presented to President Johnson though Mr. Rostow the Declaration of Rights for Soviet Jewry adopted last April at Philadelphia. The Declaration lists six basic needs of Soviet Jewry. The rabbi noted sympathetic concern on the part of Mr. Rostow for the problem of Soviet Jewry.

NEXT STORY