WASHINGTON (Dec. 30)
The more than 400 Jewish leaders from 66 American communities who are here seeking Nixon administration action on behalf of the Leningrad prisoners petitioned the Kremlin today to “right the wrong committed against the Leningrad defendants before the guns of the firing squad commit murder.” The appeal declared that the “barbaric sentences”–two Jews condemned to death and nine other prisoners given prison terms for “banditry and treason”–were levied “for crimes that were never committed.” That, the leaders asserted, was “a travesty of Justice.” Dr. William A. Wexler, president of B’nai B’rith and chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, contended that the Soviet “arrogance” and “brutality” had “overnight put the plight of Soviet Jewry squarely before the moral conscience of the entire world”–a feat that Soviet Jewry itself, he said, had been unable to achieve over many years. Significantly, added Dr. Wexler, the Leningrad verdicts had “shamed Communist Parties throughout the world into disavowing the tactics of the Kremlin.” He declared: “The Leningrad II are not an isolated incident. They are the Soviet Jewish community. We dare not fail them.”
Rabbi Herschel Schacter, chairman of the American Jewish Conference on Soviet Jewry, said the “courageous voice of Soviet Jewry” would never be stilled despite “cruel anti-Semitism.” Arthur J. Goldberg, the former ambassador and Supreme Court Justice, asked: “What kind of Justice makes a man a prisoner in the land of his birth?”–especially for religious reasons. Such “Justice” he said, was uncivilized. George Meany, chairman of the AFL-CIO, called on European free-trade centers to protest the Leningrad sentences. Dr. Hans J. Morgenthau, the political scientist, said the Leningrad trial was a “replica” of the “Jewish doctors’ plot” against Stalin, in that it sought to “stifle expressions of Jewish consciousness in the Soviet Union.” The Washington rally leaders announced that Sen elect Hubert H. Humphrey, the former Vice President, had cabled Soviet Premier Alexsei N. Kosygin to protest the “terrible verdicts,” to “earnestly request your immediate personal intervention to prevent a cruel miscarriage of justice” and to “review the entire problem of Soviet Jewry.” Lawrence Cardinal Sheehan of Baltimore issued a statement condemning the “harsh and inhuman handling of these unfortun ate victims of Soviet intimidation” and their “systematic and dehumanizing harassment.” The secretary general of the International Union of Electrical Workers, David J. Fitzmaurice, was arrested today after he flew an Israeli flag atop the union’s building across the street from the Soviet Embassy. The specific charge against him was not known by late afternoon. A protest parade scheduled to proceed past the Embassy was called off, despite the issuance of a permit, when the police said placards were not permitted under the terms of the permit. Three Jewish leaders–Dr. Wexler. Rabbi Schacter and Max M. Fisher, chairman of the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds–conferred for more than two hours with Secretary of State William P. Rogers. Yesterday, 3,000 marchers filed past the White House in a demonstration coordinated by the Jewish Community Council. In a second march later in the day, 1,000 persons marched the same route past the White House. The Senate approved unanimously a resolution by Sen. Robert Dole, Republican of Kansas, voicing distress at “the continued injustices” against Soviet Jews and urging President Nixon to act. Sen. Claiborne Pell called on President Nixon, the U.S. Congress and the American people yesterday to appeal to the Soviet Union. The Rhode Island Democrat, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, declared that “Mankind is appalled by the latest act of inhumanity against the Jews of Russia.” Washington police arrested 13 persons, 12 men and a woman, who tried to stage Chanukah services outside the Soviet Embassy last night.