NEW YORK (Dec. 21)
The president of the American Jewish Committee and a prominent Protestant spokesman today called on the Soviet Government to meet with Jewish and Christian leaders to work out humane and orderly ways for Jews to leave the Soviet Union to be reunited with other members of their families in other countries.
Morris B. Abram and the Rev. Dr. Truman Douglass, executive vice-president of the Board for Homeland Ministries of the United Church of Christ, voiced their appeal in response to a statement recently made in Paris by Soviet Premier Alexei N. Kosygin that “there is no problem” for Soviet Jews who wish to leave Russia to be reunited with their families. The appeal was made in a broadcast this evening that was released to radio stations throughout the U.S.
Mr. Abram said he assumed the Kosygin announcement was evidence of “Soviet policy in compliance with Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which the Soviet Union has subscribed to. That article provides that everyone has a right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his own country.”
On his part, Dr. Douglass demanded that the U.S. Congress pass enabling legislation to permit Soviet Jews to join their families here. “I would insist,” Dr, Douglas said, “that the United States must open its doors to any Jews from the Soviet Union who wish to come here. I would insist that if enabling legislation is needed, we must do what was done in the case of the Cubans desiring to leave Cuba and must see that such legislation is passed.”
Asked by Dr. Douglass whether the Jews can take Kosygin’s pledge seriously, Mr. Abrams declared during the broadcast: “I think that the Soviet Premier’s announcement must be taken at face value. Soviet officials speak carefully, and if they misspeak, their words are corrected before they appear in the official Soviet Press. Premier Kosygin’s remarks twenty-four hours later were published in the official Government newspaper, Isvestia.
“Now I will know whether Premier Kosygin’s promises mean what they say: if there is no recrimination or reprisal against those who apply to leave or against those families who remain, and if machinery is established by the Soviet Government to carry out new policy, and finally if Soviet Jews are permitted to widely know that policy and that they are free to avail themselves of the opportunity,” the American Jewish Committee leader emphasized.