United Nations (Nov. 4)
Arthur A. Fletcher, United States representative on the Third Committee on Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination, called upon the Soviet Union to “accord a right to emigrate – not a privilege – and to permit the many Jews who remain in the Soviet Union to pursue their cultural and religious interests without hindrance.” Addressing the Committee, Fletcher declared “the observance of the basic human rights of Jews in the Soviet Union is a matter of great concern to many, many Americans… This public concern has been particularly acute regarding the right to emigrate” as stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
He noted that although leading public figures, religious leaders and men of good will throughout the world have implored the Soviet government to let Soviet Jews and other minority groups exercise this simple freedom, “there are still countless cases of families in the USSR who have legally and properly sought for years to exercise this fundamental right to leave the Soviet Union, but in vain. Worse, many Soviet Jews continue to be subject to harassment, imprisonment, or worse for their efforts.”
Fletcher noted that despite Soviet claims that there is no discrimination against Soviet Jews and that the problem of Soviet Jewry has been invented abroad, “We hear from Soviet Jews who have left the Soviet Union and from the relatives of persons in the Soviet Union that Soviet Jews suffer from discrimination in employment, higher education and government service.” Most important of all, he continued, “they are being deprived of the cultural ingredients needed to preserve their separate identity–the schools, the training, the religious centers, the special publications and even the synagogues. Whatever the facts, we do know that large numbers of Jews are anxious to leave the Soviet Union. That much is not in question.”