ZOA President Urges Congressmen to Drop Bills for U.S. Visas for Soviet Jews

Herman L. Weisman, president of the Zionist Organization of America, urged Congress today to drop proposed legislation that would open U.S. immigration to Soviet Jews on grounds that such legislation “can only divert attention from their primary demand to be permitted to go to Israel.” In a statement issued today. Weisman said that Congressmen who have recommended a special adjustment of American immigration quotas are “sincere, well intentioned and sensitive to the Kremlin’s repressive policies toward its Jewish citizens.” But, he continued, their efforts “ignore the fact that every statement, appeal and petition by Soviet Jews seeking to emigrate cites their right, and their need, to live full Jewish lives in Israel.”

A bill to authorize 30,000 U.S. immigration visas for Soviet Jews has been introduced in the House by Rep. Edward Koch, New York Democrat. A similar bill was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Clifford Case, Republican of New Jersey and is co-sponsored by Sen. Jacob K. Javits, New York Republican. Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey. Minnesota Democrat has gone on record in support of such legislation. Both bills are presently in committee. Weisman indicated that he has no plans at present to approach the Congressmen directly on the issue. He said, however, that members of Congress are in key positions to help bring about the lowering of Soviet emigration barriers. He urged them to concentrate on calling for the U.S. to raise the issue before the UN General Assembly and to continue to speak out from every available platform in support of Soviet Jewry. Weisman announced the designation of the period Sept. 12-18 as American Zionist-Soviet Jewry Solidarity Week. He said the event would stress “the resurgence of Zionism among Jews in the Soviet Union, historically a fertile breeding ground for Zionist feeling and expression.”

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