Distress Found Growing Among Czechs over Anti-israel Clause in Bratislava Statement

Distress is growing among Czech intellectuals and particularly the youth over the Government’s acceptance of a clause condemning “Israeli aggression” in the communique issued last Saturday at the conference of Eastern European Communist Party leaders at Bratislava. Some circles are sharply critical of party leader Alexander Dubcek who they believe should have objected to the anti-Israel wording. Many of the 6,000 participants in the recent Communist Party Congress have expressed such opinions in interviews published in the evening newspaper Vecerni Praha.

The objections are attributable to a large measure of goodwill toward Israel in many Czech circles despite the fact that diplomatic relations with that country were severed after the June, 1967 Six-Day War and have not been restored. But even more evident is the feeling that with the growing internal liberalization, Czechoslovakia should have struck out for a more independent foreign policy and that the Bratislava conference and the earlier talks with Soviet and other Communist chiefs at Cierna was the time to do it. Many Czechs are still fearful that a “deal” was made with the Soviets at Cierna despite official assurances to the contrary. In general they believe that a foreign policy dominated by dogmatic Stalinist prejudices such as hostility toward Israel is not compatible with the liberalization at home.

NEXT STORY