WASHINGTON (Jul. 8)
In a stepped up campaign to convince the United States Information Agency to beam Yiddish broadcasts over the Voice of America to Russian Jews, three community leaders met today with the USIA Advisory Commission on Information. The three, Daniel Greer. First Deputy Commissioner of Ports and Terminals in New York City, Jack C. Bendhelm, a businessman active in the Center for Russian Jewry, and Dr. Harvey Leiber, a political science professor in Washington, met with the group at the invitation of Dr. Frank Stanton, president of CBS, chairman of the Commission. Stanton did not attend this morning’s session which was part of the Commission’s regular day-long monthly meeting. But the other four members–William F. Buckley. Jr., editor of the conservative National Review; Hobart Lewis, editor of Readers’ Digest; James Michner, author; and John Shaheen, industrialist, attended and listened cordially, according to informed sources. Greer spoke for 15 minutes and then the three answered questions for another 15 minutes. Greer emphasized four points in his presentation to the Commission: the morale factor; the practical aspects; the use of Yiddish in Russia and the opportunity of the U.S. Government to help “save” Russian Jews from “cultural genocide.”
He countered the objections voiced by USIA chief Frank Shakespeare in publicly released letters to inquiring Congressmen that the agency would need additional transmitters to broadcast in Yiddish with evidence that some VOA transmitters are unused during significant periods of time. He added that 90 percent of the Russian Jews live in one Western time zone, easily reached by present VOA transmitting facilities. He compared the consideration that such VOA broadcasting would harm Russian Jews by spurring anti-Semitism with the hesitancy to bomb concentration camps during World War II for fear of killing their Jewish inhabitants. “This is the second chance of the United States Government to save Jewry, this time from cultural genocide, after failing to save Jews from the holocaust of World War II,” Greer told the commission. He added that Soviet Jewish emigres, recently released in the Russian liberalization of emigration policies, emphasize the “credibility” of the VOA and the importance of Yiddish broadcasts to the younger generation attempting to learn Yiddish with no schools or textbooks. Greer suggested VOA broadcasting of up to one hour daily in place of some Russian broadcasting if necessary. He told the group that all American Jews, from members of the Anti-Defamation League to the Agudat Israel regard this as an extremely important issue and plan to continue their campaign. Greer estimated that it would cost about $150,000 in personal and related costs to inaugurate Yiddish broadcasting. Lewish Olon, the staff director of the Commission staff could not be reached for comment, but informed sources expect the Commission to support Shakespeare’s refusal on budgetary grounds.