WASHINGTON (Jun. 23)
Reports over the weekend that the Soviet Government was prepared to guarantee in writing to allow 45,000 Jews to emigrate annually to Israel failed to receive confirmation yesterday at the White House, the State Department, or in the Senate.
White House Deputy Press Secretary Gerald Warren said he had “no comment whatsoever” on the reports. State Department sources felt Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger himself should discuss the reports but he was unavailable to newsmen. Only one Senatorial aide said the reports appeared to be “true” but she quickly added that their Senator was not commenting.
The National Conference on Soviet Jewry and the Greater New York Conference on Soviet Jewry reacted to the reported 45,000 per annum quota offer with disdain. The Soviets are “playing a cynical numbers game with human lives,” said a joint statement issued by Jerry Goodman and Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive directors of the national and New York groups. The fact that the Russians may have advanced a quota is an admission by the Soviets “that countless Jews are eager to leave the USSR.” the statement said. It added, “In principle, we are strongly opposed to negotiations based on numbers rather than on human rights. Our goal is total and free emigration.”
(According to reports reaching London from Soviet Jewish activists, the quota promise given Kissinger, if true, would not solve the problem because it would be filled by Jews from the Baltic states, Georgia and Moldavia who presently receive visas while Jews in Moscow and Leningrad would still be unable to get them.)
The reports said that Kissinger on June 6 discussed the alleged Soviet offer with Sens. Henry M.Jackson (D., Wash.), Abraham Ribicoff. (D., Conn.) and Jacob K. Javits, (R.,N.Y.). Aides to those Senators said at the time that “some movement” was indicated by the Soviet Government through Kissinger towards relaxing it emigration policy and that they had asked Kissinger to discuss the matter further with the Soviets. They refused then, and refused again yesterday to discuss “numbers.”
Nevertheless, one especially well placed Senatorial source told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that if the Soviets were thinking of the 45,000 level of emigration yearly — it was “unacceptable” and “wholly inadequate.” He pointed out that the Jackson Amendment applies to all Soviet citizens, including Jews. The reports, he said, were misleading and implies assurances that the Soviets have not made.
DELIBERATE LEAK SEEN
Some Senatorial sources suggested that the reported Soviet offer of 45,000 was deliberately leaked at this time by State Department sources to create a situation which would indicate to the Soviet leaders that the Nixon Administration is doing its utmost to kill the Jackson Amendment. The purpose was, they said, to try to provide President Nixon with some kind of advanced position when he meets with the Soviet leadership in Moscow next week.