UNITED NATIONS, N.Y. (Jun. 10)
Five rabbis staged a four-hour sit-in yesterday afternoon at the united Nations Mission on behalf of Soviet Jewry and we are finally “escorted” out-in the words of a Mission spokesman-after overstaying their appointment by three-and-a-half hours. The rabbis represented a larger, interfaith delegation that picketed the Mission on June 3 when they demanded a strong statement from President Nixon on Soviet Jewry, urged the Voice of America to broadcast to Russian Jews in Hebrew and Yiddish, and supported a bill in Congress for 30,000 emergency U.S. visas for Soviet Jews. The five rabbis, who had obtained a half-hour appointment with Deputy Ambassador Christopher H. Phillips, returned “because we have seen no movement by our federal government to commit itself to a concrete plan of action on behalf of Soviet Jewry,” the rabbis said, “The failure of our administration now to act is reminiscent of the hurdles and excuses set up by our own government during World War II, which became an acquiescence in the destruction of millions of innocent lives.”
The rabbis warned that if the government does not act, “we will be back with more and more of our fellow clergy, Jewish and non-Jewish, organizations and institutions representing thousands of members.” Among those also attending the meeting yesterday was Ambassador Seymour Maxwell Finger, the top-ranking Jewish diplomat at the Mission. Ambassador George Bush, the permanent representative to the United Nations, asked the demonstrators to leave after they had been there for four hours, and when they did not he told the security staff to eject them. The sit-inners were Rabbis Irving Greenberg of Riverdale Jewish Center; Steven Riskin, Lincoln Square Synagogue, Avraham Weiss, Congregation B’nai Jeshurun, Monsey, N.Y.; Aryeh Gottlieb, Jewish Community Center of Paramus, N.J., and Charles Sheer, Jewish chaplain of Columbia University. The meeting was arranged by the Center for Russian Jewry and the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry.