United Nations (Oct. 21)
United States Ambassador George Bush accepted today 100,000 petitions for Soviet Jewish rights that were rejected yesterday by the Soviet Embassy in Washington. The petitions demand Soviet observance of the “clear and unequivocal…essential human right” of emigration expressed in the United Nations Charter, and urge the Kremlin to “stop your inhuman persecution of the Jews in the Soviet Union.”
The petitions were presented to Bush by Philip E. Hoffman, president of the American Jewish Committee; Rep. Sidney R. Yates (D.,Ill.), a colleague of Bush’s when the envoy was a Congressman; Enoch and Marjorie Silverstein of Chicago, who unilaterally printed the appeals and launched the signature drive (he is an official of the Community Council of Jewish Organizations of Chicago); David Geller, the AJ Committee’s European affairs specialist, and Judah Graubart of the AJ Committee’s Chicago staff.
Hoffman said in a prepared statement: “Our enemy is silence. With no protest, no focus of world opinion on the Soviet crimes, the obliteration of Jewish life in the Soviet Union is a tragic surety. The Soviet government must be kept aware that world opinion will not remain silent in the face of their anti-Semitic policies.”
Bush replied that while a non-Jew like himself could never “fully understand” diaspora Jewry’s feeling about the situation of Soviet Jews, he felt “a tremendous personal drive to try to be effective, to be helpful.” On June 8, Bush accepted petitions signed by 8,300 Christian leaders and subsequently delivered them to Secretary General Thant. The envoy was startled to learn today that the general media, including the New York Times, were not covering today’s presentation by their own choice, as they had been invited.