GENEVA (Jan. 11)
Fifty Jewish leaders from 13 countries including Israel and the United States met here today to coordinate worldwide efforts to continue to press for action by the community of nations for the right of Soviet Jews to emigrate to Israel without the imposition of a “heinous ransom tax.” Louis Pincus, chairman of the World Zionist Organization Executive, on whose initiative the meeting was called, told the all-day conference, “We do not set the priorities for Soviet Jewry. They set the priorities and they want to emigrate.”
Pincus stressed at a press conference, that the rights which he and his colleagues were demanding were ones “respected by all civilized nations” and “not only a Jewish right.” The Russians, he continued, “must stop trading in human beings and accede to the code of civilized behavior. A person’s intellectual property is his own and what the Russians are attempting runs counter to a world striving for greater freedoms not less.” Pincus noted that “we are very encouraged on the whole by the moral indignations aroused among civilized peoples throughout the world. We are of the opinion that the Soviet Union is sensitive to world public opinion and the continuation of this moral struggle has enormous consequences for the Jewish people and for humanity as a whole.”
Pincus estimated that 100,000 applications had been made by Soviet Jews for emigration to Israel which have so far been refused by the Soviet authorities. He said that 32,000 Soviet Jews had arrived in Israel during 1972 and that statistically some 12 had returned to the USSR and 40 to countries other than the USSR.
Jacob Stein, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, who also addressed the meeting, said that American Jewry would step up its action to rescind the ransom tax by bringing trade pressures to bear on the Soviet authorities. A. Kalman head of the French Jewish community, stressed the disappointment at the refusal of the Soviet authorities to apply any amnesty to Jews in Soviet prisons whose only “crime” is their desire to emigrate to Israel.