Jewish Leaders Assail Bombing of Embassy; Ajcommittee Urges Congressional Action
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Jewish Leaders Assail Bombing of Embassy; Ajcommittee Urges Congressional Action

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In the wake of last Friday morning’s bombing of the Soviet cultural offices in Washington, D.C., the American Jewish Committee has called on President Nixon and Congress to “swiftly introduce and approve legislation making a federal crime of the illegal actions against the official property and personnel of foreign governments in the United States.” In a statement issued over the weekend, AJCommittee president Philip E. Hoffman urged that the legislation be “part of a redoubled effort by the United States government to root out and prosecute those who have recently been responsible for such actions against the Soviet Union and others.” In addition, it is understood that officials at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations are preparing a similar recommendation. In the nation’s capital, the bombing incident is being investigated by the Metropolitan Police Department, the Executive Protective Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, while the Nixon administration is seeking to get Jewish leaders to pacify demonstrators. The five Soviet buildings in Washington have been placed under all-day guard for the first time. Friday’s explosion, caused by a pipebomb blast in the alleyway adjoining the Soviet offices near Du Pont Circle, ejected a child out of its bed and broke windows of the offices and of the American Museum Association building across the street, but there were no injuries.

Half an hour after the blast, an anonymous woman caller told the Associated Press: “This is a sample of things to come. Let our people go. ‘Never again!’ ” There was speculation that the bomb had been set by either the Jewish Defense League. which uses the slogan “Never again!” and has endorsed similar past incidents it has been accused of, or by persons seeking to implicate the JDL. In a television interview here Friday, Dr. William Perl, senior advisor to the Washington Committee for the Relief of Captive Soviet Jewry, suggested that the explosion “might have been done by the Russians themselves” as part of “a planned campaign” to discredit opponents of the trials of Soviet Jews. Dr. Perl said the bombing was “a regrettable incident…a foolish and wrong thing to do.” explaining that “violence breeds violence.” His committee has engaged in anti-Soviet demonstrations here, including the recent takeover of the offices of Tass, the USSR’s press agency. In New York, the JDL denied responsibility for the bombing, but declared: “We do not condemn this act. The applause for it comes from imprisoned Soviet Jews. The commuting of the death sentences in Leningrad was but a skirmish in the war of liberation. We ask the people of the world to join in that war.” Acting Secretary of State John N. Irwin II apologized to Soviet Ambassador Anatoly F. Dobrynin and later stated: “Violence and other actions which endanger innocent lives and damage private property can only sicken and dismay all law-abiding Americans… Every effort is being made to apprehend those responsible for this criminal act…”

The sabotage was deplored by Jewish leaders. Dr. William A. Wexler, president of B’nai B’rith, called it “a reprehensible act of terrorism that can only exacerbate the plight of Soviet Jews and provide another pretext for Soviet harassment of American officials in Moscow.” Richard Cohen, associate executive director of the American Jewish Congress, said the saboteurs “stand condemned as enemies of the Jewish people (who) play into the hands of Soviet propaganda by diverting attention from the real crime: the repression of Jewish life in the USSR.” Rabbi Herschel Schacter. chairman of the American Jewish Conference on Soviet Jewry, denounced the blast as “another in the recent series of outrageous and senseless acts of violence that can only harm, not aid, the cause of Soviet Jewry.” Brant Coopersmith, an executive officer of the Washington chapter of the AJCommittee and vice chairman of the District of Columbia Human Relations Commission, stated that “An attack in the night against defenseless people is a dastardly, cowardly act,” especially “with respect to people in foreign missions.” (In Moscow Friday, U. S. Ambassador Jacob D. Beam apologized for the incident to Foreign Minister Andrei A. Gromyko, whom he had asked to see to present the State Department’s rebuttal to last week’s Soviet charge that the U. S. government was “conniving” in-anti-Soviet actions. Gromyko gave Beam what U. S. Embassy sources called “a stern protest” against the action.)

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