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State Department Reaffirms Opposition to Abuse of Russian Jews but Counsels Caution

The State Department reaffirmed today American policy to speak out against the repression of Soviet Jews but cautioned that “We must carefully choose the forum or occasion for public representations regarding the treatment of national and religious minorities in the Soviet Union” because “to do otherwise might expose our efforts in the United Nations and else where to dismissal as mere ‘cold war propaganda,’ ” The reaffirmation of policy was contained in a letter signed by Harison M. Symes, acting Assistant Secretary of State for Congressional Relations to Sen. Jacob K. Javits, New York Republican. It was in response to a telegram Javits sent to Secretary of State William P. Rogers urging the U.S. to protest to the Soviet Union against the “reported barbaric sentences imposed on Jews for the alleged attempt at airplane hijacking in Leningrad.”

Symes wrote that the State Department believes “the Soviet failure to accept the basic right of free movement was at the root of the Leningrad trial” last month at which 11 Jews received severe prison sentences. Two of the accused received the death penalty, later commuted to 15 years’ imprisonment after a world-wide outcry of protest. Symes’ letter was accompanied by three statements recently made by U.S. spokesmen regarding the treatment of Soviet Jews.

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