WASHINGTON (Jul. 31)
An Alabama Congressman, challenged by a young Republican, said today he had urged a plank for the Republican national convention for US government aid to Soviet Jewry because “we have a special obligation to show sensitivity toward and act in protection of the rights of the Jewish people who have endured such tribulations and unspeakable persecution in our time.”
The exchange between Rep. John N. Buchanan and a George Washington University student, who was not identified, took place at one of the hearings held by the Young Republican National Federation which is drafting a platform for presentation to the Republican Party convention next month. The student asked Rep. Buchanan “why should the United States government interfere with the internal affairs of the Soviet Union regarding Soviet Jewry?”
Rep. Buchanan, who as a Baptist minister served churches in several southern states before being elected to Congress, replied generally that “it is our obligation to show concern for human rights anywhere in the world” and that he felt the need for a special sensitivity for Jews “against the background of the 20th century.” He asserted that “at this point in history, the Soviet Union finds it in her national interest to seek an improvement in relations with the United States and has become more sensitive to world opinion than ever before.”
Accordingly, he added, “our protest can have an effect on the policies of the Soviet government. If the Kremlin was wise. it would not only consent to open the doors to those who wish to emigrate to Israel or elsewhere, but it would reverse the policies of suppression which prevent Jews from expressing their faith or their Jewishness within the Soviet Union Itself.” He added that Jews are treated as an ethnic as well as a religious group “but are denied rights of other ethnic groups in the Soviet Union.”
He added that “the concern which Soviet Jewry has shown in expressing protests against such policies should be an inspiration to all freedom-loving people. They merit our continued encouragement and support,” he said. The Young Republican Federation included recommendations for assistance to Soviet Jewry in its platform proposals. The text of Rep. Buchanan’s comments were made available to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency at its request.