Jewish Leaders Pledge to Use Moral Persuasion to Get the Soviet Union to Revoke Exorbitant Visa Fees

Jewish leaders attending an international conference on Soviet Jews which opened here today pledged to use moral persuasion and to work within the limits of democratic and civilized action to get the Soviet Government to revoke its exorbitant visa charge on Jewish academicians and intellectuals seeking to leave the Soviet Union.

The meeting, sponsored by the Jewish Agency and hosted by the Board of Deputies of British Jews, specifically eschewed violent action of any kind and indicated that the participants hoped to achieve their aim through the sheer weight of outraged public opinion all over the world. (See p. 3 for Goldmann-Eban Dispute on Ransom.)

They said that Jews everywhere would be urged “not to pay this tax on human beings.” The meeting which ends tonight, was attended by Louis A. Pincus, chairman of the World Zionist Executive in Jerusalem. Michael Fidler, president of the Board of Deputies and Jewish community leaders from the US. Canada and France.

At a press conference this morning they said it was quite clear that relations between Soviet scientists and other academics in the free world have been marred by the new visa tax. They expressed the hope that the Soviet academic world itself would convince the government that the move has adversely affected Soviet relations with the rest of the world.

Meanwhile, it was reported from Moscow that 47 Soviet Jews from Moscow and Kharkov have have petitioned President Nikolai Podgorny to revoke the levy. Their open letter to the president of the Supreme Soviet, Russia’s highest legislative body, cited Art. 121 of the Soviet constitution that grants every citizen the right of “free education in all schools” and said that retroactive application of the new regulations was contrary to Soviet legal principles. The letters called the visa fee based on the level of education a “crushing blow” that was part of a “continuous flow” of government efforts to thwart their desires to leave the Soviet Union.

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