PALM BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 30)
The head of the American Jewish community’s organized effort for Soviet Jewry said today that this activity would continue unabated despite the fact that many more Soviet Jews were currently being permitted to emigrate to Israel than ever before.
Richard Maass, president of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry, and chairman of the American Jewish Committee’s Bicentennial Commission, in an address to the Board of Governors of the AJ Committee at a special meeting here, declared that “the current exodus from the Soviet Union would not have come about had we not exerted pressures from outside simultaneously with the activities of Soviet Jews themselves. Were the Soviet authorities to believe that the issue no longer was of great concern to us and world opinion, they might well shut off emigration.”
Maass listed four other reasons why the organized effort should not be allowed to end: Continued harassment and intimidation of those who wish to leave; an increased backlog of applications for exit permits, and indications that still more Jews wish to emigrate; internment in Soviet prisons of at least 40 Jews; hazards faced by Jews who dare apply for exit permits, including loss of jobs and community ostracism.
Maass also announced that the NCSJ was declaring April 30 to be Russian Jewish Solidarity Day throughout the country. It is being coordinated by the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council and will involve Christian and Jewish leaders. Maass added that petitions addressed to President Nixon were now being circulated and would be presented to him at the White House shortly after April 30. The goal for the petitions is one million signatures.