Lithuanian Jewish Intellectuals Appeal to Communist Party to Permit Emigration

Jewish intellectuals living in Vilna have appealed to the Lithuanian Communist Party to permit Lithuanian Jews to emigrate to Israel because “we are not wanted here.” The appeal was made by 26 intellectuals in a letter which was not signed because “we know well how people who had protested against flourishing anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union at one time or another were summarily dealt with.”

The letter was made public today by the Academic Committee on Soviet Jewry, and is the first written protest against Soviet anti-Semitism by Jews living in the USSR that has come to the attention of Western observers, according to Prof. Nathan Glazer, the committee’s newly-elected chairman, Prof. Glazer, of the University of California, described the appeal for emigration as “unique and unprecedented.” The letter said in part, “If the borders would be opened for emigration today, some 80 percent of the entire Jewish populace would leave Soviet Lithuania and depart for Israel.” The letter addressed to Comrade A. Snieckus, first secretary of the Lithuanian Communist Party’s central committee, was smuggled to the West some time ago, Dr. Glazer said.

Prof. Glazer announced the launching of a campaign for 25,000 signatures from American university professor urging Russian authorities to provide three million Russian Jews with the same cultural and religious facilities given to other officially-recognized minority groups. It also asks that Soviet Jews who wish to be reunited with families living abroad be permitted to leave.

The Lithuanian Jews’ letter said there was a “rising wave of anti-Semitism” in their country and asserted that it had been revived by anti-Israel propaganda in the nation’s press. “We cannot be silent at a time when the press publishes material that nourishes local Judo phobia,” the letter asserted. charging that leading Communists were “openly promoting” anti-Semitism. It also described anti-Jewish discrimination in higher education, government service, labor unions and Communist Party affairs.

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