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British Jews Asked to Boycott Soviet Music Festival Next Month

Pressure is mounting from British Jewry for a boycott of the Soviet Music Festival to be held in Britain between Nov. 7-30 as a means of protesting the head tax. The Board of Deputies of British Jews, while reluctant to proclaim an official boycott for a variety of reasons, has clearly indicated that British Jews should not patronize the Soviet musical event.

The United Synagogue, Britain’s largest congregational body, declared in a statement issued today that “At a time when Jews in the Soviet Union are being harassed and are being denied their rights to religious freedom, the United Synagogue deplores the visit to this country of Soviet artists…(and) urges its members not to support or patronize any of these concerts.”

The British section of the World Jewish Congress made a similar appeal to its members as has the Federation of Synagogues and other synagogal bodies. Sir Louis Gluckstein, chairman of Albert Hall where one of the concerts is scheduled to be held, and Harold Sebag-Montefiore, chairman of the Greater London Council’s Arts Committee, have both declared that they would not attend the concerts because of the treatment of Jews in Russia.

Victor Hochhauser, the Jewish impressario who is arranging the festival, has come under increasing pressure to dissociate himself from it. The WJCongress urged him to withdraw his sponsorship “while his fellow Jews in Russia are subjected to harassment.” A similar demand was made by the Universities Committee for Soviet Jewry which also demanded that Hochhauser stop bringing other Soviet artists to Britain “until the harassment of Soviet Jews ceases.” Hochhauser told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today that “We are trying to disengage ourselves from this commitment.” He observed, however, that “We don’t want to let down the British government on a commitment which was made three years ago.”

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