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Israel Exchanges Allegations on Human Rights with Soviet Union and Syria

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Israel exchanged allegations yesterday about violations of human rights with the Soviet Union and representatives of Arab countries. Mutual allegations were voiced in the United Nations’ Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee which has just begun general debate on an issue connected with the International Year for Human Rights. Mrs. Tamar Eshel of Israel expressed “dismay and sorrow” that the Soviet Union, “whose Constitution safeguards the rights of all peoples and minorities, has been consistently discriminating against the Jewish minority…numbering more than three million people.” She also drew the committee’s attention to “the systematic campaign of propaganda, pursued by the official mass media in the Soviet Union, Poland and East Germany against Jews.” The Israeli representative also spoke of the “plight of the Jewish minorities in certain Arab countries in the Middle East.”

The committee was presented by Sweden with a 34-power draft resolution on the International Conference on Human Rights held in Teheran, Iran last spring. It would have the General Assembly take action on “full implementation of human rights.”

While praising the Teheran conference for making an “important constructive contribution to the cause of human rights,” Mrs. Eshel told the committee that the Israeli delegation “found itself the target of a political propaganda offensive that disrupted the proceedings, created dissension and led to the adoption of a one-side political resolution.” E.N. Nasinovsky of the Soviet Union termed Mrs. Eshel’s remarks “slanderous insinuations” and said that the Soviet Union provided “equal rights for every nationality,” adding that Israel had violated human rights in the Arab territories occupied during the June, 1967 war. His position was supported by George J. Tomeh of Syria who denied there was “political propaganda” at Teheran regarding Arab rights in those territories. Mr. Tomeh accused Israel of raising a smoke-screen to hide humanitarian resolutions adopted at the UN since the Six-Day War. He cited a report by Secretary General U Thant which he said made it “absolutely clear” that Israel refused to agree to a Security Council request to Mr. Thant to send a “humanitarian” envoy to the occupied territories to study the condition of Arabs in them.

In her charges against the Soviet Union, Mrs. Eshel said that unlike other minorities, the Jews are deprived of any means of using their own language for instruction, of learning their own history in any language, and of developing their own culture and civilization. “Three million Jews are permitted to have, in all, 62 synagogues and only three practicing rabbis….The Jewish minority, while officially considered a national group, is doomed to forcible assimilation, cultural disappearance and spiritual strangulation.” She called anti-Semitism in Russia a political tool and Jews there “scapegoats for the evils of a society and the failure of a system.” Turning to East European propaganda. Mrs. Eshel said the “campaign is camouflaged to appear to be directed against Zionism as an ideology and as a political movement” but she said it was evident that it was really a “powerful revival of anti-Jewish prejudices and policies.” She said that the words “Zionist” and “Jew” are interchangeable in this campaign. “How can we interpret the repeated accusation that ‘Zionists’ (‘Jews’) endanger the peace of the world, that they are responsible for the liberalization in Poland, that they undermine the Government of Poland, and that they are the enemies of the Socialist ideas of the Soviet Union?” Mrs. Eshel praised Czechoslovakia for not being drawn into anti-Semitic practices and criticized the “rehabilitation of the notorious anti-Semite Trofim Kichko whose book ‘Judaism Without Embellishment’ was published in 1963 by the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences in Kiev.”

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