Board of Deputies Urges Soviet Boss to Help Terminate Persecution of Jews

The Board of Deputies of British Jews urged President Nikolai Podgorny of the Soviet Union today to take steps to terminate the Kremlin’s “campaign of persecution against Jews whose only alleged crime is their wish to go to Israel.” The Board of Deputies, the central representative body of British Jewry, approved the text of a telegram to President Podgorny expressing its concern over the forthcoming trial of 31 Jews for an alleged attempt to hijack a Russian airliner at Smolny Airport near Leningrad last June 15. The telegram charged that the aim of the trial and of connected searches of Jewish homes, arrests and confiscations, was to intimidate Jews who want to go to Israel and to dissuade them from pressing for their lawful right to emigrate. According to Michael Fidler, chairman of the Board of Deputies. “the position of Soviet Jews is deteriorating rapidly and we are assembled here to protest against the treatment of Soviet Jews and to try to prevent a tragedy.” He expressed the hope that the telegram to President Podgorny “may evoke a response.”

Lord Barnett Janner, who heads the Board’s foreign affairs committee, said that “unless the prosecution of Soviet Jews stops, the Soviet Union will join a group of discredited Jew-hating countries.” He said that “Soviet authorities should realize that Jews cannot live as Jews in the Soviet Union and therefore they must be permitted to go.” Mr. Fidler, a Conservative MP, said the Board would not hesitate to present its views to the Tory government, “just as we never hesitated to present our views to the Labor government.” He referred to recent statements by Foreign Secretary Sir Alec Douglas-Home and other British officials on the Middle East which Israel regarded as pro-Arab. “I need hardly assure you that I, as a Conservative Member of Parliament of the Jewish faith, am continuing and will continue to adopt the same attitude.” He added that he had “no reason to believe that the views of the British Foreign Secretary on Israel have undergone a recent change.”

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