NEW YORK (Jul. 18)
Soviet Communist Party Secretary Leonid I. Brezhnev tried but failed to shake U.S. Congressional support for the Jackson and Mills-Vanik legislation when he was in Washington last month, Richard Maass, chairman of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry, said today. Furthermore, Maass said, the “patently false” figures on Jewish emigration from the USSR and the number of visas granted which Brezhnev recited at a meeting with Senate and House members, seriously damaged his credibility.
There was no erosion of support for the measures linking U.S. trade concessions to the Soviet Union with an easing of emigration policies. In fact, an additional legislator, Sen. Russell Long (D.La.) has since added his name to the list of sponsors of the Jackson Amendment, Maass told a press conference at the Biltmore Hotel.
Other points Maass made in reply to reporters’ questions were: there are now 1400 “hard core cases” of Soviet Jews deprived of jobs and awaiting exit visas nearly a 50 percent increase over the 1000 such cases that he, Jacob Stein. president of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, and Max Fisher of Detroit cited to Presidential advisor Henry Kissinger before the latter’s trip to Moscow last May; that he “hoped” the Supreme Soviet, currently in session in Moscow, will come up with new citizenship laws that will result in the “regularization” of emigration procedures and not in tightening restrictions.
UNDIMINISHED ACTIVITY ON BEHALF OF SOVIET JEWS
Maass said that when Brezhnev came to the U.S. for his summit talks with President Nixon he expressly intended to crack Congressional support for Soviet Jews as embodied in the Jack-son-Mills-Vanik bills. Brezhnev reported that 61,000 visa applications were received in 1972 and 60,200 visas were issued. Actually, said Maass, as of June, 1973 more than 110,000 applicants were awaiting exit visas but only 31,700 visas were issued in 1972.
Maass said that he and other American Jewish leaders expect to meet shortly with Dr. Kissinger for a briefing on the Nixon-Brezhnev summit results as they relate to Soviet Jewry.
Others attending the press conference were Stanley H. Lowell, chairman of the Greater New York Conference on Soviet Jewry and Mrs. Charlotte Jacobson, chairman of the American Section of the World Zionist Organization. Asked by a reporter if there might be a resurgence of anti-Semitism in this country if it appeared that the Jewish community was hampering detente and trade agreements with Moscow. Lowell replied. “We are for detente, but detente with freedom.”
Mrs. Jacobson also dismissed the possibility of a rise in anti-Semitism and said that efforts to aid Soviet Jews would continue with “undiminished intensity.” She said that during her recent visit to Israel she met with many Soviet Jewish emigres. “Someone would win a Pulitzer prize for telling the story of the miracle of the absorption of so many Soviet Jews by Israel.” she told reporters. She said that 95 percent of the immigrants are satisfactorily settled by the end of their first year in the country.