Washington (Oct. 27)
A visiting Soviet tour group, four of whose 11 members are Jews, will not meet with American Jewish representatives, on orders of the Soviet Embassy. An Embassy official said yesterday that the group would not have sufficient time during its five-city schedule. The group has been here since Sunday and was invited to address a public meeting last night sponsored by the Georgetown (University) International Student House Organization. The meeting was cancelled after 15 minutes because of interruptions by members of the Jewish Defense League.
The interruptions began after Valerian S. Nesterov, the Soviet Cultural Exchange Counselor here, announced that one of the Jewish members of the visiting delegation was absent. “Col. Gen. David Dragunsky had a previous engagement. He is not in prison,” Nesterov explained. In the ensueing laughter, he corrected the last phrase to “He is not present.” Mrs. Charlotte Levin, a housewife of Rockville, Md., and secretary of the Washington chapter of the JDL, immediately shouted: “Where is the traitor?.” and Dr. William Perl a psychologist of College Park, Md., and chairman of the chapter, added: “Is it because of the JDL that he is not here?”
Students charged that Jews outside were not being let in, even though the 600-seat hall was less than half filled. The meeting was adjourned when a smoke bomb exploded in the hall. The Russians walked off the platform and out the back door accompanied by Soviet Embassy officials. Members of the Jewish Community Council of Greater Washington, who did not participate in the disruption but distributed leaflets describing the plight of Soviet Jewry, deplored the incidents.
SOVIET JEWS NOT FREE AGENTS
The Soviet Embassy’s rejection of meetings between the visiting delegation and Jewish leaders came four days after Seymour D. Wolf, president, and Dr. Issac Franck, executive vice president, of the JCC had written to Nesterov to suggest a meeting “in any public forum” to discuss “Jewish life in the US and the Soviet Union.” The Soviets were given jurisdiction over “the choice of forum, whether public auditorium, television, radio or all three.” Nesterov replied that the delegation’s “busy schedule” prohibited any such arrangement.
“It is obvious,” said Dr. Franck, “that the four Soviet Jews, who are not free agents but only puppets who say what they are ordered to say, did not wish to face an open public discussion at which the truth about the Soviet government’s oppression of Soviet Jewry would be publicly ventilated.” The Jews in the delegation are Dragunsky, a much-decorated war hero; Dr. Uri Gristman, director of the Moscow Research Ocological Laboratory; Samuel Zivs, Deputy Director of the Institute of State Law of the Soviet Academy of Sciences and a member of the Governing Board of the Institute of Soviet-American Relations in Moscow; and Vladimir Peller, chairman of a collective farm. The group will return to Moscow Nov. 7.