State Dep’t Asserts Soviet Jews Are Victims of Singular Discrimination

The State Department is scheduled to publish a pamphlet titled “The Mistreatment of Jews in the Soviet Union,” in which it asserts that Soviet Jews are subjected to singular discrimination including a “greater degree of cultural deprivation” than other Soviet minorities. The statement continues: “Living is tense and unpleasant for those who assert their Jewishness. Nevertheless, an increasing number of Jews, particularly young people, are boldly and publicly claiming their rights, including that to travel abroad and emigrate.”

An advance copy of the text of the pamphlet was sent to Rabbi Oscar Groner, assistant national director of the B’nai B’rith Hillel Foundations and coordinator of the current meeting here of the National Conference on Campus Action for Soviet Jewry, sponsored by B’nai B’rith Hillel Foundation and the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry.

The text contends that “as one of the recognized religions, Judaism fares better (in the USSR) than non-recognized sects–such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses–but worse than other officially recognized religious groups.” Included are references to statements of support for equal religious, cultural and emigration rights by President Nixon, an unidentified State Department spokesman, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Richard T. Davies and United Nations representatives Rita E. Hauser and Arthur Fletcher.

Davies is quoted as endorsing a Congressional resolution to express US concern over the plight of Soviet Jewry. He gave that endorsement in Congressional testimony last Nov. 10 in the course of controversial remarks that “claims that Soviet Jews as a community are living in a state of terror seem to be overdrawn.” Declaring that the US has “facilitated” exit visas for Soviet Jews and stressing Attorney General John Mitchell’s initiation of parole authority to admit emigrated Soviet Jews into this country, the State Department text affirms:

“We shall continue to speak out on these issues, but the impact of official statements or approaches to the Soviet government remains limited. So far as we can determine, the few Soviet concessions of recent years have come about in response to expressions of concerned public opinion from abroad.” This, the pamphlet notes, is “evidence that the moral weight of peaceful, lawful expressions of public opinion throughout the world may yet persuade the Kremlin to reconsider its practices.”

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