Washington (Oct. 19)
An official Soviet tour group consisting of 18 members–about half of them Jews–is expected in the United States later this week. The group is travelling under the auspices of the Soviet Government and will visit New York, Washington, Kansas City, San Francisco, Los Angeles and possibly other cities. There few if any national Russians in the group indicating that one purpose of the visit is to show that ethnic minorities co-exist in harmony in the Soviet Union. Another purpose, according to observers here, is to counter the appeals by Jews and others in the US for emigration rights for Soviet Jews and the allegations that Jews in the USSR are singled out for discrimination and dented their cultural and religious rights.
This seems to be borne out by the presence in the group of Col. Gen. David Dragunsky, the highest ranking Jewish officer in the Soviet Army who has gone on propaganda missions for the Kremlin before. Gen. Dragunsky was in Brussels last February where he organized a counter-meeting to the World Jewish Conference on Soviet Jewry being held there. Later in the year he visited Latin America on a similar mission. The tour group includes Jewish and non-Jewish professors of law, historians and scientists.
Morris Abram, former president of Brandeis University and of the American Jewish Committee and a US representative to the United Nations during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, recommended today that American Jews welcome the Soviet visitors. He told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that he believed American Jews should invite the Jewish members of the group to sit down with them and discuss Jewish problems as Jews. He said such an approach could have the effect of negating propaganda ploys by the visitors.
The Soviet group is expected to hold news conferences in the cities they visit. Their trip was arranged by the American Express Co., the only American travel agency with a branch in Moscow. (In New York, Glenn Richter, Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry national coordinator, said the tour was apparently set up to try to counter the "negative image" In the United States of Soviet policy toward Jews. He said the group would be given "a rather warm welcome" by SSSJers.