U.S. and Soviet Delegate Clash in Geneva; Moscow Anti-semitism Seen
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U.S. and Soviet Delegate Clash in Geneva; Moscow Anti-semitism Seen

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A sharp exchange involving charges of anti-Semitism against a Soviet representative took place here today between Morris B. Abram, chief United States delegate to the United Nations Human Rights Commission and Yakub A. Ostrovski, head of the Soviet delegation, during debate on the question of the establishment of an office of High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The exchange began when Mr. Ostrovski directed the comment at Mr. Abram that he was not here at a meeting of the American Jewish Committee. Mr. Abram, who as a Jewish leader in the United States, serves as president of the American Jewish Committee, replied to the anti-Semitic outburst sharply but in a dignified manner. He recalled that the Soviet delegate had made a similar remark three weeks ago.

“I deeply regret, ” Mr. Abram said, “that my Soviet colleague has exceeded the normal standard of conduct here by twice making reference to my Jewish connection. I understand also that he has indulged in religious implications with respect to another member who is Jewish in the deliberations of a working party.

“I have many private connections with foundations, colleges and universities, one of them a Negro college, and numerous civil rights organizations and bar groups in the United States. The Soviet delegate, however, has now twice referred in two caustic and sarcastic terms to my connection with the American Jewish Committee. Of that affiliation, as with all others — Jewish and non-Jewish — I am proud.

“The American Jewish Committee is the world’s oldest human rights organization, having been founded in 1906, to fight Czarist anti-Semitism and its struggles against all forms of man’s inhumanity to man and for all people — regardless of race, color or creed. The Soviet delegate knows this well for he has several times used the American Jewish Committee’s great human relations library, which contains one of the world’s best resources in the field. I, myself, have seen him in the AJC library in New York.

“The singling out of this one association of mine I let pass three weeks ago feeling that it might have been a human slip, but now it has occurred a second time, and this conduct is obviously deliberate and calculated. It is in keeping with the policy, which has become infamous in all the world, of claiming non-discrimination and tolerance while practicing discrimination and repression. It is in keeping with the policy behind the publication recently of the Kichko book, a crude Der Stuermer type of anti-Semitic tone, which evoked criticism of Communist parties all over the world when the book was issued by an organ of Soviet society.


“It is a disgrace that in this place, the Human Rights Commission, and at this session at which we have passed the historic draft Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Religious Intolerance, that the Soviet delegate should raise this crude implication,” Mr. Abram continued.

“I am a man; but he would not refer to me as that. I am an American; he did not so identify me. I am honored to be the American representative to this Commission; he said nothing of this. I am a Jew and president of the American Jewish Committee. This, he chose to mention in an obviously angry and polemical way. The choice of this one association to which the Soviet delegate has now twice referred, shows what all mankind now knows — that deep prejudice which has been deplored by Communist parties in other states. I want it clearly understood that Communist parties in Poland, Rumania and elsewhere fight anti-Semitism, and there is no necessary connection between Communism and anti-Semitism.

“The manifestation of anti-Semitism is in the Soviet Union. The other Communist parties around the world were morally forced to condemn the Kichko book published by the Soviet Union. The crude attitude of the Soviet delegate is now unmasked. His pious adherence to high principle, to the contrary notwithstanding, the Soviet delegate has displayed his bias by his barely concealed and coded message here. I regret with all my heart that I was forced to make this statement. With all my heart, I wish it had not been necessary.”

Speaking in connection with the Commission’s observance, today, of International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Dr. Maurice L. Perlzwig, representa- tive of the World Jewish Congress, chided the majority of U.N. member states for having failed, thus far, to ratify the U.N.’s antiracism Convention, adopted 18 months ago. He noted that, of more than 120 members eligible to ratify the pact, only seven have done so, “Unless and until the governments are ready to substitute action for rhetoric,” he said, “the plague of racialism will continue to affront the human conscience and hold up the progress of human society/”

Yesterday, the Commission decided to refer to the General Assembly for a final decision the draft Convention on the elimination of statutes of limitations in cases involving prosecutions of war crimes. The Commission was unable to agree on certain legal points in the short time available.

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