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VOA Rapped for Devoting Too Little Time to Plight of Soviet Jews

Rep. Claude Pepper (D. Fla.) has accused the Voice of America of devoting too little time to the plight of Soviet Jews in its weekly Russian-language program beamed to the USSR. "It is ridiculous and insulting to everyone who is concerned about the plight of Soviet Jewry to produce only one ten-minute program and not to broadcast any of this pitiful program in Yiddish," the Congressman said in a letter made public today to Frank Shakespeare, administrator of the US Information Agency. The VOA is part of the USIA.

A spokesman for the VOA told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that Rep. Pepper’s letter was being studied at the USIA but that no response will be made until Shakespeare returns from abroad next week. The VOA’s program originated last Dec. after strong protests were lodged by Congressmen and others against the paucity of information about Jews being broadcast to the Soviet Union.

The program is broadcast on Sunday morning and is repeated Monday nights in the Russian and Ukrainian languages. A VOA spokesman told the JTA that the program is devoted to cultural and religious interest but also contains information on Jewish affairs. "VOA reported the blackmail on Jews wishing to emigrate and all that," the spokesman said, adding, "We do use words in Yiddish and Hebrew as warranted by the content although we don’t have a program in those languages."

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