WASHINGTON (Apr. 2)
Former Russian jazz drummer Mark Yampolsky, in the seventh day of his hunger strike opposite the Soviet Embassy, today challenged comments by Deputy Secretary of State Kenneth P. Rush on the Soviet Jewry issue. Sen. Henry M. Jackson (D.Wash.), a champion of the right of Soviet citizens to emigrate freely, circulated Yampolsky’s remarks on Capitol Hill and issued a statement of his own.
Speaking at the State Department’s foreign policy conference for news media representatives last Thursday, Rush praised the Soviet Union for its “commendable flexibility” on emigration and predicted that anti-Semitism would arise in Russia if Congress failed to grant most favored nation trade benefits and credits to the USSR. Yampolsky 25, asserted in a letter to Rush that the Soviet education tax on emigrants is only a cover-up for the underlying policy of routine denials of permission for Jews to emigrate, except when it suits Soviet authorities.
State Department officials told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today that Yampolsky’s letter had not been received and said that when it does arrive it will be studied and presumably acknowledged. Yampolsky gave his return address as “opposite the Embassy of the USSR, 16 St. NW Washington, D.C.” Yampolsky, a former mathematics student who emigrated from the Soviet Union to Israel last Nov. is on a hunger strike to protest the refusal of Soviet authorities to grant exit visas to his in-laws, Dr. and Mrs. Isaac Poltinnikov, and his sister-in-law, Victoria. Yampolsky’s wife, Eleanora, is on a hunger strike in behalf of her parents outside the Soviet Embassy in London.
Yampolsky’s letter to Rush challenged the State Department official’s stated figures on Jewish emigration from the USSR. He said that instead of 3500 Jewish departures a month cited by Rush, only 2174 left last Feb. In circulating Yampolsky’s letter today, Sen. Jackson noted that “Soviet representatives have been all over Washington threatening that my amendment will lead to anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism is so rampant in Russia that it is hard to imagine how it can be affected by the amendment,” he said. He suggested that anyone who had any doubt about this “listen to the people who have been the target for anti-Semitism all these years.”
The Jackson Amendment to the East-West Trade Act and Identical amendments in the House sponsored by Reps. Wilbur Mills (D.Ark.) and Charles Vanik (D.Ohio) would deny U.S. trade concessions to Moscow until restrictions on the emigration of Soviet citizens are removed.
Government sources indicated to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today that some confusion existed on the figures for Jewish emigration cited by both Rush and Yampolsky. The sources said Soviet Jewish emigration to Israel in Jan. 1973 totalled 2549, in Feb. 2659 and March 2174. The latter figure corresponded to Yampolsky’s Feb. statistics. Total emigration in 1972 was 31,500, the sources said. They said Rush may have meant 2500 and inadvertently said 3500 were leaving each month.