Soviet Periodical Rebukes Farbstein’s Hearings on Soviet Treatment of Jews

A Congressional hearing on the condition of Soviet Jews, held in New York April 13 by Rep. Leonard Farbstein, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs sub-committee on Europe, has elicited a sharp response from the “New Times” a Soviet English-language periodical. Mr. Farbstein, a candidate for renomination in the Democratic Primaries on June 23, said today, “I apparently touched a sensitive nerve of the Soviet government by holding the hearing.” Among those testifying at the hearing dealing with persecution and discrimination of Jews in the Soviet Union were Jerry Goodman, director of European affairs of the American Jewish Committee. Moshe Decter, director of Jewish Minorities Research and Stanley Lowell, national vice president of the American Jewish Congress. The New Times article. “What Congressman Farbstein Ought To Know,” is signed by M. Kobrin. According to the writer, Soviet Jews are “full-fledged citizens and active builders of our new society.” Mr. Kobrin wrote, “The political, social and economic emancipation of the Jews made possible by the October Revolution has enabled them to over come the tendency toward self-isolation, which has always been inculcated in Jewish people by militant Zionism. Most Soviet Jews have voluntarily merged with the peoples in whose midst they live and adopted their language, customs and culture.”

Mr. Kobrin concluded that if Mr. Farbstein was really interested in defending the Jews, he and his friends “would find a vast field for their efforts in defense of equality at home in the United States.” Commenting on this article, Mr. Farbstein said, “It is strangely silent about the fact the Jews are kept virtual prisoners in the Soviet Union,” so-much so that appeals had to be made to the United Nations for permission to emigrate. “Nothing is said,” he continued, “about the Jewish people’s deprivation of the cultural and religious rights given to all other citizens of the U.S.S.R. Nothing is said about the Jewish people being treated as second-class citizens by being compelled to carry travel cards with a designation of ‘Jew’ thereon.” When one scratches the surface, Mr. Farbstein observed, “one must notice that the Jews in the Soviet Union have been silenced. The right of Jews to find their own identity and to assert themselves, to find some sort of Jewish meaning, is non-existent.”

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