WASHINGTON (Jan. 5)
The United States government condemned today a Soviet diplomatic note accusing U.S. authorities of conniving in acts of violence by “Zionist extremists” against Soviet personnel and property in this country and threatening retaliation against American citizens in Russia. The note was delivered to Acting Secretary of State. U. Alexis Johnson by Soviet Ambassador Anatoly F. Dobrynin yesterday. Its text was broadcast by Moscow radio last night. State Department spokesman Robert J. McCloskey told newsmen today that Johnson totally rejected the allegation of connivance and warned the Russians that they were “raising the spectre of officially inspired retaliation” against Americans in the Soviet Union and that “such action by the Soviet government would indeed be serious and we consider such a threat most disturbing.” McCloskey said that Johnson’s reply was oral and that no written reply was contemplated. However, he said, the Acting Secretary of States made it clear that the U.S. deplores and condemns acts of violence against Soviet institutions and groups in the U.S. and has “taken enforcible Steps which we hope will be effective against such acts of violence,” Sources close to the State Department said the sharp condemnation of the Soviet threat was prompted by the fact that American citizens and installations were involved. McCloskey later told newsmen that “we are deeply concerned and shocked by the open threat, possible retaliation against American establishments in the Soviet Union.”
The Soviet note claimed that Zionist extremists not only hamper the normal functioning of Soviet offices in the U.S. and jeopardize the U.S. -Soviet cultural exchange program, but also openly threaten Soviet diplomats and other Soviet citizens with physical violence. “The American authorities, however, contrary to their promises to take necessary measures, are in fact continuing to connive in these criminal actions,” the note charged. It stressed that if the U.S. does not take necessary action to create normal conditions for Soviet organizations and groups traveling in this country, “it cannot expect the guarantee of such conditions for American organizations or offices in the Soviet Union.” The American reply, while reflecting anger over the Soviet threat, also constituted the first sharp rebuke at governmental level to persons and groups that have engaged in violent actions or threats against Soviet institutions and groups in the U.S. McCloskey emphasized that the majority of U.S. citizens “reject the actions of small extremist groups” and said the government was working in cooperation with local police to prevent them. He noted the arrests of 15 persons in New York City in connection with violent demonstrations near the Soviet UN Mission. He stressed however, that the majority of demonstrations were peaceful and that the U.S. was in no way opposed to peaceful demonstrations.
McCloskey disclosed that two U.S. Embassy officials in Moscow received anonymous threatening telephone calls in recent weeks. He said it was not clear whether the threats were against the individuals or against the Embassy but the phone calls could not have been made without the knowledge of Soviet authorities because the Embassy numbers are unlisted. He said the U.S. expects Soviet authorities to “take appropriate action to protect U.S. persons and institutions in the Soviet Union.” During a question period. McCloskey said the groups involved in violent actions against Soviet premises ranged in numbers from about a dozen to no more than 100. In reply to questions, he said that members of the Jewish Defense League were involved in the violent demonstrations but couldn’t say whether any JDL members were among those arrested. The JDL’s chairman, Rabbi Meir Kahane, implied a physical threat when he declared at an anti-Soviet rally in New York last week, “Two Russians for every Jew.” Rabbi Kahane’s group and its actions have been denounced by most major Jewish organizations.