25 Riga Jews Demand Rights of Soviet Jews to Emigrate; 102 Russian Jews Affirm Loyalty

A new letter demanding the right of Soviet Jews to emigrate to Israel was made public here today by the Board of Deputies of British Jews. The letter was signed by 25 Jews in Riga, capital of the Soviet Latvian Republic and was addressed to Premier Alexei N. Kosygin. “Fearing that our letter may not reach you,” the writers said. “We are applying to the United Press International, to the United Nations Human Rights Commission and to the Inter-Parliamentary Union to transmit this letter to you.” The text of the letter released here ended with an “appeal to you, esteemed Alexei Nikolayevich, with the request to give us the opportunity to go to Israel and to live thus in our ancient fatherland.”

The Soviet Government newspaper Izvestia meanwhile has assailed five American and British newspaper correspondents in Moscow for reporting a protest by 39 Moscow Jews against the current Soviet anti-Israel campaign. The protest, along with demands for emigration rights was sent to the Foreign Ministry and the group made its text available to Western newsmen. According to Izvestia, the latter “served the cause of Zionism” by reporting it abroad. The document was considered extraordinarily daring in that it challenged the official Soviet attitude toward Israel and Jews generally and demanded the right to appear at a press conference of Soviet and foreign journalists to make a declaration.

(In New York, Rabbi Herschel Schacter, chairman of the American Jewish Conference on Soviet Jewry said today that the “agonized plea” of the 39 Soviet Jews “has given the lie most dramatically to the charade of recent Soviet press conferences in which Soviet show Jews have recited by rote obviously coerced attacks on Israel and renunciations of Jewish affinities. Today’s vitriolic denunciation by the Soviet government of the western newsman who released this statement is its own best evidence of the validity of their charges.” Continuing, Rabbi Schacter vowed that, “We shall not rest from our efforts to lift that oppressive yoke from the backs of Soviet Jews and obtain for them that right to be Jews, to perpetuate their Jewishness, and if they so desire to emigrate.”)

The Soviet campaign of enlisting Russian Jews in denunciations of Israel continued. Izvestia published a letter yesterday signed by 102 “religious Jews” from Kiev who affirmed their loyalty to the Soviet Union and attacked Israeli Premier Golda Meir for claiming that Russian Jews want to go to Israel. “We are in our own house, our motherland,” the letter said. “On this land we were born and grew up. This is where our ancestors lived and died for hundreds of years. There is no need for us to go to Israel.” (At the United Nations yesterday, the Soviet delegate Nikolai K. Tarassov charged that Israel was “poisoning the atmosphere of friendly relations and cooperation among states” by disseminating alleged complaints from Jews in the Soviet Union. Mr. Tarassov spoke at the 26th session of the Human Rights Commission which is considering procedures for dealing with communications from individuals.)

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