Ottawa (Oct. 20)
Premier Alexei N. Kosygin made it clear today that substantial Jewish emigration to Israel from the Soviet Union was conditional on peace being achieved in the Middle East. The visiting Russian leader made that statement at a closed Parliamentary session at which members of the House of Commons’ external affairs and defense committees questioned him closely on the conditions of Jews in the USSR and his government’s policy toward them. Kosygin’s replies were relayed to the press by Ian Wahn, chairman of the External Affairs Committee.
Kosygin said, “There are no restrictions to emigration except one. Israel is occupying Arab lands and there will be no peace in the Middle East until Israel withdraws to its original boundaries. We don’t want to supply soldiers to Israel’s Army. “He said that, by-and-large, the Soviet Jews applying for emigration were of military age and had undergone military training and on going to Israel would in all probability join the army of an “aggressive power.” “When peace will come, the situation will radically change,” Kosygin declared. Asked what he meant by peace, the Soviet Premier replied, fulfillment of Resolution 242 of the Security Council.
He strongly defended his government’s treatment of minorities. “There are dissidents in every country and if you wish we can send you some,” he told the Canadian lawmakers. As to Jews who have been imprisoned, Kosygin said he knew of no cases or names. He said he personally could not undertake to free a particular individual formally convicted by the courts. He said his government had problems with “an insignificant minority.” Emigration, he said, “is not tremendous, but they make a lot of trouble and when they come there (to Israel) there are no jobs waiting for them. They are without money and some of them have applied for re-entry to the Soviet Union.”
CITES ACHIEVEMENTS OF SOVIET JEWS
At another point, Kosygin said, “Do you want me to give you the number of those who have applied for re-entry?” But he gave no figures. He mentioned 500 Russians who have applied to emigrate to Canada but did not indicate whether any of them were Jews. Some members of the two House committees judged Kosygin to be favorably inclined toward considering earlier proposals for the reunification of Soviet Jews with their families in Canada, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency was told. The proposals were submitted to Kosygin in Moscow last May by Premier Pierre Elliott Trudeau.
Asked by the MPs about the majority of Jews who wish to remain in the Soviet Union but demand equal rights, Kosygin recited the names of high-ranking Soviet civilian and military officials of Jewish origin. Asked about the alleged denial of Jewish cultural rights in the USSR, he retorted, “We have a Jewish theater. I don’t think there is any in Canada.” In his remarks today, Kosygin contended that Soviet Jewish emigration was on the increase.
He said 4,667 had left up to and including 1964; 750 in 1965; 1,613 in 1966; 1,109 in 1967; 2,100 in 1969, and 4,150 in the first eight months of 1971. The sources did not report a Kosygin figure for 1968. The Premier also pointed to what he called the greater educational and cultural achievements of Soviet Jews as compared with other groups. The 2,151,000 Jews in the USSR constitute 9 percent of the population, he said, but there are nine times as many Jews with higher education than other Russians and 17 times as many as other national groups. Also, he said, 9.8 percent of the Soviet literary and media world and 8 percent of the artistic world is Jewish.