Washington (Oct. 14)
Hyman Bookbinder, Washington representative of the American Jewish Committee, hailed Attorney General John N. Mitchell’s promise to use his parole authority to admit Soviet Jews into the United States as a “crucial breakthrough” and the “most positive and significant step yet taken by the United States” for Soviet Jews. In a statement to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency last night, Bookbinder claimed that “Any disparagement of the breakthrough reflects either ignorance of its meaning or narrow petty adherence to a preconceived policy.” On Oct. 6, Rep. Edward I. Koch (D., N.Y.) and Sen. Clifford Case (R., N.J.) announced that they were withdrawing bills before the House and Senate which called for the granting of 30,000 non-quota visas for Jews allowed to leave the Soviet Union. They said Mitchell’s promise to utilize his authority had the same effect as their measures.
Referring to Mitchell’s pledge, Bookbinder said “There have been other statements by high American officials, including the President of the United States, who have expressed concern for Soviet Jews who find it intolerable to live in the country of their birth. But never before has this country declared that the plight of Soviet Jews places them in such a precarious situation that we are prepared to receive them in large numbers if they are permitted to leave the Soviet Union.” Bookbinder told the JTA that “While Jewish agencies were divided over the specific form of the Koch bill, they were united in seeking to achieve its basic goals. In my judgement, Mitchell’s commitment goes even beyond the Koch bill in its political significance and in its potential implementation.”