2500 Academicians Sign Petition Urging Kosygin to Allow Jews to Emigrate

Some 2500 college faculty members have appealed to Soviet Premier Aleksei Kosygin to live up to a pledge, made four years ago tomorrow and allow Jews in the Soviet Union to emigrate and reunite with their families abroad. The academicians, from more than 150 American and Canadian universities, petitioned the Soviet Premier to grant exit permits to Jews who have applied for them. Among the signers were four Nobel Prize winners. They also called for the release of 35 Jews who have been arrested in recent months and held incommunicado, maintaining that the prisoners were being held for their daring persistence in seeking the right to emigrate. The petition was prepared and the signatures were gathered by the Academic Committee on Soviet Jewry, a non-sectarian group of more than 3200 faculty members. The petition cited Premier Kosygin’s statement at a press conference in Paris on December 3, 1966. Responding to a question, the Premier had then said, “As regards the reunion of families, should anyone want to be reunited with their families, or want to leave the Soviet Union, the road is open and no problem exists there.” The petition declared: “We appeal to you: uphold international obligations and grant what you yourself regard as a just request.” “Set the prisoners free! Let those who wish go to Israel!”

In a letter forwarding the petition to Premier Kosygin. Professor Hans J. Morgenthau. Chairman of the Academic Committee on Soviet Jewry, noted that while the signers “come from a great variety of disciplines and hold sharply differing views on political, economic and social matters … on the issue presented in the petition they speak with one voice.” Dr. Morgenthau, who holds chairs in political science at the City University of New York and the University of Chicago, forwarded a copy of the petition today to United Nations Secretary-General U Thant, asking his support “to facilitate this humanitarian objective.” The appeal of Soviet Jews is “simple and clear,” the petition asserts. “It is impossible to live with pride and dignity as Jews in the USSR. As human beings and as Jews, they seek fulfillment and family reunion in Israel, which they regard as their ancestral homeland.” Nobel Laureates who signed the petition are Dr. Joshua Lederberg of Stanford University, honored for his research in Genetics; Dr. Arthur Kornberg of Stanford University, a biochemist; Dr. George Wald of Harvard University, a biologist; and Dr. Julius Axelrod of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who shared this year’s prize in physiology and medicine. The Academic Committee on Soviet Jewry was organized in 1967 by a small group of faculty members for the purpose of mobilizing intellectual and academic opinion on the issue of Soviet Jews.

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