JERUSALEM (Aug. 23)
Israel’s Knesset adopted unanimously today a resolution calling on the Soviet government to repeal the huge new charges imposed for exits for Jewish academicians. The resolution also called on all governments and Parliaments to protest the “ransom money” law. Only the New Communist Party, Rakah, deliberately stayed away from the session, an extraordinary one convened during the Knesset’s normal recess. The Maki Communist, Shmuel Mikunis, was abroad. With those exceptions, all factions in the House joined in denouncing the new Soviet decree.
After the vote, Speaker Yisrael Yeshayahu said the resolution would be transmitted to Speakers of all Parliaments in the world, including those in the Socialist bloc.
The resolution called the Soviet decree “an infringement of human rights and a trampling of human rights underfoot.” a “device” aimed at “cutting off the Jewish community in the Soviet Union from the Jewish people and the State of Israel.” It urged the Soviet Union to repeal “this shameful decree which is aimed only at the Jewish citizens.”
The resolution expressed appreciation for the “great response all over the world among peoples, Parliaments, governments, progressive organizations, scientists and religious persons who all raised their voices in protest against the ransom and demanded its cancellation.” The resolution also called on the Jewish people “to mobilize its strength and neither rest nor cease their efforts until the ‘diploma levy’ is abolished and the freedom of emigration of Jews from the Soviet Union is insured.” The resolution also urged scientists of all nations “to rise to the defense of the human and national rights of their colleagues in the Soviet Union,” adding that the people of Israel and the Jewish nation “will not rest until the head tax is abolished.”
‘EDUCATION RANSOM DECREE’
The Knesset approved the resolution after hearing a series of addresses earlier in the day, led by Premier Golda Meir. She said “all peace loving people in the world” and “all people who abhor slavery” should support the Jewish people in its fight against the Soviet “education ransom decree.”
Declaring that the “people of Israel” would “never accept” the Soviet ruling, Mrs. Meir called on all Jews to join in a “united front” to fight the Soviet decree which she called “anti-Jewish in purpose and inhuman in content.” She said the significance of the decree harked back to the “darkest periods” in Russian history. She charged that the Soviet regime was saying to its Jewish citizens: “Your brain is not your own; your right to education is in doubt.” Mrs. Meir confirmed that Israel had received reports that the Soviets were considering introducing similar charges for high school and vocational school graduates, adding there are “no brakes on the road to blackmail.”
Mrs. Meir said that more than 100,000 Jews in the Soviet Union had contacted relatives in Israel but were still being denied the right to leave. The Premier added that the new charges were intended to deter those wanting to leave, and prevented the aliya of the families of the academicians as well. Addressing herself to Soviet Jews, she said: “You have proved your valor. We will not forsake you. We believe in you. Believe in us, believe in the Jewish people. Our struggle will be as pure as it is righteous.”
FOUR-POINT ACTION PROGRAM
Menachem Beigin, leader of the opposition Gahal, proposed four courses of action by world Jewry. He said Jewish youth and students should hold vigils outside every Soviet legation in the free world, around the clock, holding aloft copies of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. He said Jews in the United States should march on Washington in “hundreds of thousands” to demand from their President his intervention. At the same time, Jews in other countries should urge their governments to act, he said. Israel should raise the issue at the United Nations General Assembly and at all agencies of the UN.
He assailed the Soviet leadership, asking “How much would Einstein have been worth?” “Is capitalism rife in the land of Communism?” he asked sarcastically. He cited an official Soviet report that an average cost of higher education to the Soviet state was 949 rubles a year and was repaid by three years of work as a graduate. Beigin said the Jews now discriminated against had worked “dozens of years” in Russia. He asked about the “hundreds of thousands” of slave laborers in Stalin’s camps, Jews and Gentiles, “whose labors had been exploited. He asked: “Who will repay them?”
Beigin referred to the forced loans the Soviet government had “exacted” in the 50s “and now refused to repay the departing Jews.” He said “this alone” amounted to 570 million rubles. He also cited the pension rights which the Jews left behind and their contributions to Soviet education and science.