JERUSALEM (Jun. 21)
Israeli leaders expressed the belief today that the Nixon-Brezhnev summit talks currently in progress will have a salutary effect on the situation of Jews in the Soviet Union.
A senior government official said today that the Soviet Communist Party Secretary would probably trade a decrease in the harassment of Jews for U.S. concessions in other areas and that Israel hoped this would be manifested after Brezhnev returns home.
The official said that Washington had informed Jerusalem that the issue of harassment of Jews seeking exit visas was raised with the Russians during the pre-summit contacts and that it probably came up during the actual talks.
Premier Golda Meir told Tel Aviv University students at a question-and-answer session today that the fact that Brezhnev has admitted in Washington that there are Russian Jews who want to go to Israel can be regarded as a substantial victory for Israel and world Jewry in their efforts on behalf of Soviet Jews.
Mrs. Meir noted that Brezhnev who went to Washington to discuss problems essential to his own country, was forced to take up the question of Russian Jews at his meeting with U.S. Congressmen. Until now, she said, Russian leaders had claimed there was no Jewish problem in the USSR and the fact that they now acknowledge such a problem exists “is an achievement.”
EDUCATION TAX ABOLISHED
Mrs. Meir said, however, that “The time has not yet come to disclose what has been done and is being done on behalf of Russian Jews.”
The government official said Washington informed Jerusalem that the Soviet government has advised the U.S. that the education tax has been abolished for good and that Jewish emigration would be maintained at the level of 30-40,000 a year.
(Brezhnev was reported to have told 25 U.S. Congressmen at a luncheon meeting in Washington Tuesday that the education tax was waived except for young people who received government scholarships and had not yet gone to work.)
The official disputed Brezhnev’s contention that 90 percent of visa applicants were granted visas. He said that some 100,000 Jews are known to have applied for exit permits but far fewer have left the Soviet Union. He claimed that many more Jews would apply were it not for the harassment that follows application.
(In New York, B’nai B’rith-president David M.Blumberg, challenged Brezhnev’s assertion that 95 percent of the Soviet Jews who had applied for exit visas were granted them as “statistical make-believe.”)