Fate of Soviet Jews Remains Status Quo

Nicholas Scoppetta, the city’s Commissioner of Investigation, who recently returned from a trip to the Soviet Union, said today that he found that despite Soviet assertions to the contrary, certain Jewish scientists and others who wish to emigrate have been subjected to loss of jobs, police surveillance and harassment, and even imprisonment for minor infractions.

At a City Hall news conference, Scoppetta cited the cases of Dr. David Asbell of Moscow, a chemical engineering professor and Dr. Boris Rubinstein of Leningrad, a physicist, who were among the Jewish intellectuals he met with while in the Soviet Union. He said that both academicians lost their university positions immediately after filing applications to emigrate to Israel, apparently in retaliation for doing so.

Scoppetta, who has submitted a report on his trip to Mayor John V. Lindsay, was joined at the news conference by Manhattan attorney David A. Goldstein, his former colleague in the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, who accompanied him on the two-week tour, from June 22 to July 4, and Stanley H. Lowell, chairman, and other officials of the Greater New York Conference on Soviet Jewry.

Lowell observed that Scoppetta’s report on his meetings with Soviet officials reflects the “total inconsistency of ‘official’ explanations for denying Soviet Jews the right to live as Jews in the Soviet Union or to emigrate to fulfill themselves as Jews elsewhere….The first-hand witness of Mr. Scoppetta and Mr. Goldstein, underscores reports we have received from Jews in the Soviet Union that the situation has not changed, despite Mr. Brezhnev’s claims to the contrary.”

Scoppetta said a number of government officials asserted that the issue with regard to the emigration of Soviet Jews is one created and perpetuated by anti-Soviet pro-Zionist interests who wished to bring back the Cold War era. “They denied that any emigration problem existed at all.” Scoppetta said, “all of the Jews we spoke to said they looked to America as their principal hope in being able to modify Soviet policies towards emigration.”

A 39-year-old Jewish woman physician from Kazakhstan in the Soviet Union has committed suicide after she was dismissed from her job at a local hospital, according to reports reaching Tel Aviv. The woman, who had not requested to go to Israel, left a letter saying she could not bear the shame of being dismissed. She was dismissed together with three other Jewish physicians. Dr. Gabriel Belitzeh, chief surgeon of the hospital, Dr. Cogan and Dr. Lieberman, none of whom had asked for exit visas. The dismissals were seen as a symptom of the anti-Semitism that has been sweeping the Kazakhstan region.

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