Soviet Jewry Conference Assailed by Russians; Departure of Jewish Families Held Up

The Belgian Communist Party and the Soviet Embassy are planning a mass demonstration here Monday night against the world conference on Soviet Jewry which opens here at that time, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency learned today. According to the report, participants will include a number of prominent Soviet Jews, among them the vice-president of the Soviet Bar Association and Col. Gen. David Dragunsky, the highest ranking Jewish officer in the Russian armed forces. Meanwhile preparations for the conference were nearly completed. About 500 delegates from 50 countries are expected, among them former Premier David Ben Gurion of Israel. The conference will take place from Feb, 23-26. As the first delegates began to arrive today, the Soviet Union let loose a propaganda blast against the gathering and retaliated by holding up the departures of at least two Jewish families who had received exit visas and had planned to leave Moscow for Israel this week.

(Jewish sources identified the families as Mr. and Mrs. Viktor Fedoseyev and the family of David Drabkin, the latter an activist who has been agitating for months for emigration rights. The Fedoseyevs reportedly complied with an official request to return their exit documents until next week but Drabkin was said to insist on holding on to his. Authorities indicated that he could keep his papers as long as he didn’t try to leave the country before the conference in Brussels ends, Jewish sources said,) The Soviet blast at the Brussels conference was attributed to Moscow’s concern that it would mobilize anti-Soviet opinion in Western Europe over the issue of the treatment of Jews. The Kremlin was reportedly anxious to keep Russian-Jewish activists away from the conference which was said to account for the delay of the departures of the Drabkins and Fedoseyevs. The delay was also seen as a warning that anti-Soviet activities by Jewish groups abroad could rebound against Jews seeking to leave Russia. The Soviet press carried no news of the forthcoming Brussels conference. But the two Soviet news agencies, Tass and Novosti, denounced it yesterday.

Tass commentator Yuri Kornilov, said it could “only be regarded as another anti-Soviet provocation” He said the recent anti-Soviet incidents in the United States by the militant Jewish Defense League were “part of the program of preparations for the Brussels gathering worked out by Tel Aviv.” Most of the American Jewish organization participating in the Brussels conference have strongly condemned the tactics of the JDL. Richard Cohen an official of the American Jewish Congress in New York who is acting as press officer for the Brussels conference said there would be no non-Jewish participants except for Belgian Premier Gaston Eyskens who will extend official greetings to the gathering. Cohen said the agenda called for a series of eye-witness reports on the opening day from Jews who have left the Soviet Union recently. At the official opening of the conference on Tuesday evening, the keynote addresses will be delivered by former United States Supreme Court Justice and Former United Nations Ambassador Arthur J. Goldberg and by the French Nobel Laureate, Prof, Rene Cassin. The closing session will be addressed by Ben-Gurion and by Dr. Joachim Prinz, of Newark, N. J., Cohen said.

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