GENEVA (Jul. 15)
Delegates attending the World Conference of Jewish Organizations (COJO) agreed today to continue the fight on behalf of Soviet Jews despite possible “misunderstanding” and “misinterpretation” by advocates of Soviet-Western detente. The complex issue of Soviet Jewry and the worsening condition of Jews in Iraq and Syria were the major topics at the opening of the COJO plenary session here.
The conference is attended by the representatives of 11 major Jewish organizations including the American Jewish Congress. B’nai B’rith, the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the CRIF of France, the World Jewish Congress and the World Zionist Organization.
Jacob Stein, chairman of the Conference of the Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, disclosed that he and Richard Maass, chairman of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry, will meet next week with Dr, Henry Kissinger, President Nixon’s national security advisor, for a full briefing on last month’s Nixon-Brezhnev summit meeting as it related to Soviet Jews. Stein said he hoped they would be fully informed of what had been achieved on behalf of Soviet Jewry.
Dr. William Wexler, chairman of COJO, said: “Jews the world over welcome the current effort toward detente between the U.S. and the USSR as a major step toward a genuine and permanent peace. But if it is to be a genuine peace. It must be accompanied by action to permit the freer flow of people and ideas between our two countries and this means an end to the Soviet cold war emigration policy.” he said.
DUAL LINE OF SUPPORT FOR JACKSON AMENDMENT
Mrs. Charlotte Jacobson, chairman of the American Section of the Jewish Agency said. “We must adopt a dual line of support-for-(the Jackson Amendment) without undermining the President’s efforts for detente.” She added, “We must, however, be prepared for taunts that we undermine detente and ride them out.”
Maass told the meeting: “In our struggle for Soviet Jews, we support both the initiative of President Nixon and Dr. Kissinger as well as the initiative of Sen. Henry Jackson and his colleagues who say that free emigration must be a condition for trade benefits accorded to the Soviet Union” He observed. “As of now, there is still overwhelming support for the Jackson position in Congress. Brezhnev’s meetings with Senators and Congressmen did not change this.”
FEW SOVIET IMMIGRANTS LEAVE ISRAEL
Louis A. Pincus. chairman of the World Zionist Organization Executive spoke on the problem of absorbing Soviet Jewish emigres in Israel and the problem of those immigrants who decide not to remain in Israel and whose number, he said, was “miniscule” compared to the overall emigration.
“Many of the problems of Soviet olim are germane to all new olim from wherever they come, but there is a specific problem relating to Soviet Jews,” Pincus said. He observed that the crux of that problem was their social absorption-adults as well as children. “Israeli schools, for example, have not yet learned how to absorb the children-of-Soviet olim.” he said. The problem is being tackled, “but it will take time,” he added.
Pincus noted that a total of 95 Soviet Jews returned to Vienna and 80 are still there, reportedly seeking re-admission to the Soviet Union. He said there were also about 400 returnees in Rome waiting to go elsewhere. “But these figures should be viewed against 60,000 Soviet olim since 1971. No aliyah ever had such a miniscule percentage of yerida (returnees)” he said.
Ambassador Samuel Divon of Israel, speaking about the plight of Jews in Arab countries, said conditions were “particularly deplorable” in Syria where there are some 5000 Jews “denied all civil rights.” He said “the restrictions placed on them are crippling. They are also subjected to cruel persecutions, even dreadful torture on occasions. The right of immigration is totally denied them.”
In Iraq, where there are some 400 Jews left, the situation has worsened of late, Divon said, culminating in the massacre of the Kashkush family in their Baghdad home. “If further outrages are not prevented in time, the tiny Jewish community of Iraq will face total extinction,” he said.