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European Jews, Non-jews Urge Soviet to Free Jewish Political Prisoners

A gathering of prominent European Jews and non-Jews conducing a seminar on the problems of Jews in the Soviet Union, urged Soviet authorities last night to free Jewish political prisoners whose only crime was a desire to emigrate. A resolution adopted at the closing session of the two-day seminar observed that the continued imprisonment of these Jews was all the more incomprehensible since the Soviet Union is permitting thousands of Jews to leave.

The resolution conceded that to some extent the Soviet government has fulfilled the promise made by Premier Alexei Kosygin in Paris in 1968 that Russian Jews would be allowed to reunite with their families abroad. However, the resolution noted, more than three quarters of the number of Jews who applied for visas on the basis of that promise were rejected without explanation and in 1971 Jews were arrested after requesting visas or participating in the organization of emigration.

The resolution drafted by the seminar was based on two days of expert testimony on the situation of Jews in the Soviet Union and its relation to general conditions in the USSR. The testimony came from such authorities on Russia as Emanuel Litvinoff, of London, editor of the periodical’ “Jews in Eastern Europe”; Anatol Shub who had been a correspondent in Moscow for the Washington Post and Harpers magazine; and Alfonso Sterpellone, former Moscow correspondent for the Rome newspaper II Messagero, Boris Schechtmann and Galina Ginzburg, Jews who recently emigrated from the Soviet Union to Israel and others who have made the condition of Jews in Russia their special area of study.

The wording of the resolution was objective but contained a serious indictment of the Soviet regime for depriving its Jewish citizens of their cultural and religious rights and for “employing anti-Semitic propaganda and libel under an anti-Zionist mask which discredits the Soviet Union throughout the world.” The resolution expressed the seminar’s findings that Jews who ask to emigrate have been “objects of harassment, public condemnation and persecution.”

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