NEW YORK (Jun. 2)
In direct defiance of a law which they denounced as “unconstitutional,” an interfaith group of Jewish and non-Jewish clergy, including a minister and a nun, plan to picket tomorrow afternoon in front of the United States Mission to the United Nations. They will demand an American administration intervention in the series of trials of Jews currently under way in the USSR. The law, according to police officials, bans demonstrations along First Avenue at the United Nations, and includes the U.S. Mission which is opposite the world body. “We are prepared to be arrested, if necessary,” declared Rabbi Steven Riskin, spiritual leader of the Lincoln Square Synagogue and a spokesman for the clergymen, “because we believe that we have both a moral obligation and constitutional right to demand, as American citizens, that our government act decisively when basic human rights are violated in the world. In 1903,” Rabbi Riskin continued, “the United States government protested vigorously against the Czarist pogroms in Kishinev. Today, with anti-Semitic trials under the new Russian Czars, our government must act just as strongly.” Rabbi Riskin characterized the State Department announcement issued last week on the Riga trials as “too vague.” (See separate story) Part of the demands of the interfaith group is also for regular Voice of America radio broadcasts to Russian Jews in Hebrew and Yiddish. Rabbi Riskin pointed out that much smaller ethnic groups than the Jews in the USSR–Estonians and Latvians–receive programing in their own languages. The VOA last week rejected a Congressman’s request that it include a Yiddish-language segment because it would require new transmitting facilities that would cost some $2.5 million.