Goldmann Denies Reports He Slighted Soviet Jewry Problem, Supports Conferences Efforts

Dr. Nahum Goldmann said today that he welcomed and lent his “fullest support” to the conference on Soviet Jewry in Brussels. The president of the World Jewish Congress issued a statement clarifying his views on the problem of Soviet Jewry after he was criticized yesterday by spokesman for the Brussols conference for alleged remarks attributed to him in press reports of a speech he delivered in Zurich last Saturday at a meeting of the Swiss Zionist Association. Dr. Goldmann said the reports were “erroneous.” They had quoted him as saying that the problem of Soviet Jewry was being “over-valued and dramatized.” In his statement issued here today, the Jewish leader said: “Next to the survival and well being of the State of Israel, I have always regarded the fate of Soviet Jewry as the chief priority of world Jewish concern. I do not believe that the plight of three and-a-half million Soviet Jews can be ‘exaggerated’ or ‘over-dramatized’ as I have been misrepresented as saying.” Dr. Goldmann observed that Soviet Jews were not in danger of physical persecution “but of enforced assimilation which threatens the spiritual, religious and cultural survival of the second largest Jewish community in the world.”

He said it was “paradoxical” that the Soviet Union, the only country to recognize the Jewish community as a national minority, denies it “the rights and opportunities which many other minorities, most of them numerically smaller than the Jewish one, enjoy in developing their cultural, religious and national life and maintaining their identity.” Dr. Goldmann said, “A specific aspect of the problem is the fact that large numbers of Soviet Jews, motivated by their loyalty to the Jewish people and their deep historical and sentimental attachment to Israel, claim the right to join their families there, a right which some years ago was recognized as justified by the Soviet Prime Minister Mr. (Alexsei) Kosygin, although it is granted only to very limited individual cases.” He added that the “clear discrimination” against the Soviet Jewish community, sharpened by the vicious denunciation of Zionism as aggressive, “obliged world Jewry and both Jewish and non-Jewish public opinion to raise their voices in clear protest against this indefensible situation.”

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