NEW YORK (Sep. 11)
The Greater New York Conference on Soviet Jewry today launched a major campaign to seek the release of Soviet “Prisoners of Conscience” in which 30 Republican and Democratic congressmen from New York City, Long Island, Westchester, and Rockland Counties each adopted one of the prisoners and pledged to work in his behalf.
At a press conference launching the campaign, Eugene Gold, Conference chairman, said that he believed that the release of Silva Zalmanson, who arrived in Israel late last night, after serving four years of her 10-year sentence, “is the direct result of the concern and interest of the American public at large and especially members of Congress” who worked for her release. He said that while the Conference welcomes the negotiations between the United States and the Soviet Union about the emigration issue; public pressure cannot be relaxed because even as negotiations are going on Soviet harassment of Jews who wish to emigrate to Israel is continuing.
Rep. Hugh L. Carey (D.NY), who yesterday won the Democratic Party’s nomination for Governor of New York, said Congress “will not give materials and goods to the Soviet Union” until she allows every person who wishes to emigrate to do so. He said the New York congressional committee will meet with Sen. Henry M. Jackson (D.Wash.) and Rep. Wilbur D. Mills (D. Ark.), the formulators of the Jackson/Mills-Vanik legislation which would deny trade and credits to the Soviet Union until Jews and others are allowed unhampered emigration.
NO UNCONDITIONAL PARDON TO USSR
Carey, who has adopted prisoner losif Mendelevich, said Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger must make the position of Congress clear to the Soviet Union and not just tell Congress what the Soviet Union wants. Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman (D.NY), who adopted Yuri Vudka, said notice must be given to the Ford Administration that “we will not give an unconditional pardon to the Soviet Union” until it frees the prisoners and allows Soviet Jews and others to emigrate. Rep. Ogden R. Reid (D.NY), who adopted Mikhail Kornblit, said the “United States will never prefer economic expediency over human rights.”
Both Carey and Reid also urged efforts on behalf of Syrian and Iraqi Jews. Carey said all the Jews in Syria were “prisoners.” Gold, in noting that Soviet harassment of Jews was continuing, singled out the case of Vitaly Rubin, a 50-year-old sinologist who was taken from his sick-bed and charged with parasitism,” and Elahu Essas, a 27-year-old rabbinical student in Moscow, who was abruptly ousted from school after applying for an exit visa.
The new campaign will invoke each Congressman keeping in constant touch with the State Department and the Soviet Union on the condition of the adopted prisoner. There will be various programs in each congressional district including setting aside a “place of honor” in churches and synagogues for the prisoner and the renaming of public places for the prisoner.
The other Congressmen present at the press conference and their adopted prisoners are: Rep. Bella Abzug (D.NY). Piotr Pinkhasov; Rep. Mario Biaggi (D.NY), Eduard Kuznetsov (Silva Zalmanson’s husband); Rep. Jonathan Bingham (D.NY), Boris Azernikov; Rep. Hamilton Fish (R.NY), Isak Shkolnik; Rep. Benjamin Gilman (R.NY), David Chernoglaz; Rep. Norman Lent (R. NY), Hillel Butman; and Rep. Peter Peyser (R. NY), Aleksandr Feldman. (By David Friedman)