WASHINGTON (Feb. 21)
Boris Ainbinder, a former Soviet Jewish activist, appealed yesterday to a group of Senators on behalf of three Moscow Jewish friends now conducting a hunger strike over refusal of Soviet authorities to grant them exit visas. Ainbinder told the Senators that during recent months conditions for Soviet Jews had worsened and that David Azbel, Vitaly Rubin and Vladimir Galatsky had resorted to the hunger strike to protest their situation.
Ainbinder also said that all of the telephones of leading Moscow Jewish activists, including that of the hunger strikers, had been disconnected. Sen. Vance Hartke (D.Ind.) was host for the informal meeting of nine Senators. The Senators questioned Ainbinder about the effect on the situation of Soviet Jews of the amendment sponsored by Sen. Henry Jackson (D.Wash.) to the proposed Trade Reform Act.
Hearings on the Trade Reform Act are due to begin in early March before the Senate Finance Committee. A number of its members attended “the meeting at which Ainbinder strongly endorsed the Jackson amendment. He said his friends in the Soviet Union believe adoption of the amendment will aid the cause of free emigration. Ainbinder has been touring this country under auspices of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry.
The Conference and the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry jointly released yesterday the text of an appeal from the hunger strikers which said “How many thousands, and maybe tens of thousands, of parents refuse to give permission to their children, even those with over-age children themselves, simply out of fear for their own fate?” The message, in the form of “An Open Letter to the People of the United States,” said the Jackson amendment made “certain aspects of Soviet-American relations dependent on free emigration from the USSR and that means dependent on morality, international law and human rights. “
They added that “those who, in the name of global and till now value goals, are prepared to absolve the Soviet government and consider that human rights regarding emigration are being fulfilled, are committing a tragic mistake.” They said that was why they were turning to the American people “at a time when we are staging a hunger strike as an extreme way of making the Soviet government respect our human and civil rights.”