ROME (Feb. 6)
A British expert on the Soviet Union sought today to explain the contradictions in Soviet policy toward Russian Jews–allowing them to emigrate to Israel in large numbers while at the same time harassing Jews, sentencing some of them to harsh prison terms and waging an anti-Zionist campaign with undertones of anti-Semitism.
Emanuel Litvinoff, editor of the London journal “Jews in Eastern Europe,” addressing the first International Seminar on Soviet Jewish Problems which opened here yesterday, said the explanation for these contradictions lies in the fact that their motivations are often irrational and are derived from anti-Semitic attitudes. Even Jews who are extremely cautious often suffer from them, Litvinoff said. He cautioned that “to see the problem of Soviet Jews exclusively in terms of emigration means evading the real issue which is more complex and extends beyond the frontiers of the USSR.”
The Seminar brought together distinguished European Jews and non-Jews from seven countries. Dr. Sergio Piperno Beer, president of the Association of Italian Jewish communities, who opened the Seminar in the Great Hall of the Rome City Council, stressed the importance of seriousness and objectivity in its “style and purpose.”
Circulated at the Seminar were facsimile copies of a letter from Mrs. Esther Markish, widow of the Jewish writer and poet, Peretz Markish, who was a victim of the Stalin purge of Jewish intellectuals in 1952. The latest appeal by Mrs. Markish and her son, David, for permission to emigrate to Israel was rejected last week by Soviet authorities. In her letter to the Seminar she stated: “that our request to emigrate to Israel has the purpose to immortalize the memory of this Hebrew-Jewish poet.”