NEW YORK (Jun. 29)
The B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation League’s exhibit on the plight of Soviet Jewry, postponed last week for fear of demonstrations by Jewish militants opened here last night on an “invitation only” basis. Pickets representing the Jewish Liberation project handed out leaflets accusing the defense agency of “too little and too late concern” for Soviet Jews and castigate is for accepting the State Department’s “quiet diplomacy policy under the delusion that it will help soviet Jews.” The 225 communal leaders who attended the private opening, heard from Mrs. Rita Hauser, United States representative to the UN Human Rights Commission, who said it was “most desirable that official contacts (on behalf of Soviet Jews) be kept on as quiet a level as possible.” Mrs. Hauser. always sympathetic to the cause of Soviet Jews, said President Nixon was following the issue “closely” and had encouraged her in all her activities. But Brooklyn District Attorney, Eugene Gold, who arrived at the exhibit after Mrs. Hauser delivered her remarks, stressed the need “to influence our own government to be heard on this issue” and declared that “The President must speak out.”
Last night’s picketing by about 14 JLP members was peaceful and engendered a mixed reaction among the invited guests. Some Expressed strong opposition to the charges against the ADL and said “Jews shouldn’t fight Jews.” Others said they were “confused” and several took issue with the ADL for “informing” the FBI against other Jews, namely the militant Jewish Defense League. It was the prospect of possible violence by the JDL and the JLP, a radical Zionist group, that led the ADL to postpone the opening of the exhibit, originally scheduled for Monday, June 21. Spokesmen for both groups denied at the time that they planned violence. Fear of embarrassing incidents inside the exhibit apparently brought the ADL decision to close it to the public.
The exhibit, which runs for two days, consists of historical documents and photographs tracing Jewish life in the Soviet Union during the half century of the Soviet regime. Included in the show is a half hour CBS documentary filing on the current condition of Jews in the USSR and taped interviews with Soviet Jewish emigres arriving in Israel. Ben R. Epstein, national director of the ADL, said the purpose of the show was to call attention to the materials displayed so that they might be distributed for community use. The FBI leaflets demanded that the ADL make the case of Soviet Jewry a “top priority” issue. They demanded that it stop “spying” on Jews and stop” turning over their names to the FBI.” The leaflets also accused the ADL of “smearing radical health groups,” a reference to such episodes as the one at Lincoln Hospital where Jewish radicals on the staff supported Black and Puerto Rican demands for the ouster of a Jewish physician. Gold, who recently visited the Soviet Union, and Mrs. Hauser both said the situation of Soviet Jews must be one of universal human concern, not simply a Jewish question. Gold emphasized his personal opposition to the “barbarism” of the Jewish Defense League but noted that some Russian Jews supported JDL tactics. He said the fact that Russian officials say the JDL is hurting the cause of Soviet Jews “doesn’t make it so.” Former ADL Chairman Dore Sohary, who attended last night’s opening, opposed “random harassment and violence” and called for “persuasive work” for the Jews in Russia.