NEW YORK (Oct. 20)
Jewish leaders hailed the agreement by the Administration and three key Senators which is expected to allow 60,000 persons to emigrate each year from the Soviet Union. They had warm praise for President Ford, Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger and Sens. Henry M Jackson (D.Wash.). Jacob Javits (R.NY) and Abraham Ribicoff (D.Conn.).
At the same time, however, they warned that the agreement does not end the problems of Soviet Jews and said Soviet compliance must be carefully watched. Reports from Moscow also indicated skepticism by Soviet Jews that Soviet authorities would live up to their part of the bargain.
Stanley H. Lowell, chairman of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry, and Rabbi Israel Miller, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Issued a Joint statement “in behalf of our constituent organizations, representing the six million Jews in America” expressing appreciation to Ford, Kissinger, Jackson, Javits and Ribicoff.
“However, we will not forget that the real determination of the success of this agreement lies in the Kremlin,” their statement declared. “There can be only one measure of the effectiveness of (the) announcement, and that is performance. We shall watch closely Soviet compliance with the terms of the understanding. We will also continue to press for the rights of those Jews who desire to live freely as Jews in the Soviet Union.”
PROBLEMS NOT ENDED
The Greater New York Conference on Soviet Jews, while welcoming the exchange of letters between the Administration and Congress, warned that the agreement “does not spell an end to problems of Soviet Jews.” Malcolm Hoenlein, the Conference’s executive director, noted that “only continued vigilance on the part of the U.S. will assure Soviet compliance with the principles outlined in the accord.”
The agreement “is a source of gratification to all people of good will,” Mrs. Charlotte Jacobson, chairman of the World Zionist Organization-American Section said. She said the agreement including the “benchmark” of 60,000 emigration visas annually “signals a dramatic improvement in the attitude of the Soviet government. The agreement should certainly sustain the Jews of the Soviet Union and strengthen them in their struggle to join their brethren in Israel. Passage of the Trade Bill, with the Amendment, will signal to Soviet Jews possible fulfillment of their fondest hopes and aspirations.” Mrs. Jacobson renewed the pledge of the Jewish community to remain vigilant on behalf of Soviet Jews as they rise to this historic opportunity.
COULD BE VICTORY FOR WORLD PEACE
Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg, president of the American Jewish Congress, said the agreement “is a victory for human rights and a vindication for all who believe with us, that our country’s historic commitment to freedom must be maintained in al our relations.” Hertzberg stressed that “we will watch closely to see that the USSR” fulfills its obligations. If these conditions are met, he said, “permitting trade between the USSR and the U.S. to expand and thereby strengthening the links between our two countries, a great victory will have been won not alone for human rights, but also for world peace.”
Elmer L. Winter, president of the American Jewish Committee, in hailing the agreement, expressed hope that it would lead to Jews being allowed to emigrate freely without harassment, the immediate release of Jewish “Prisoners of Conscience,” the end to impediments on the emigration of professionals and technicians and “the freedom of Jews remaining in the Soviet Union to develop and maintain their cultural and religious institutions.”
In Washington, B’nai B’rith hailed the agreement as a “victory for Soviet Jewry and for all who prize freedom and courage.” B’nai B’rith president David M. Blumberg wired Jackson his organization’s congratulations” on your superb leadership in mobilizing the Congress and public support” on the issue.” Praise for Ford, Kissinger and Jackson was voiced by Rabbi Mordecai Waxman, president of the (Conservative) Rabbinical Assembly, for having “effected by long and arduous discussion and diplomacy the arrangement whereby some 60,000 Soviet Jews will be allowed to emigrate from Russia annually.”
Dr. Joseph P. Sternstein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, bailed the agreement as “good news to all freedom-loving people.” But he warned: “No doubt, many in the Soviet totalitarian regime will look askance at this understanding and will seek to sabotage it in the many subtle ways at their disposal.”
SOVIET JEWS HOPEFUL, SKEPTICAL
Jewish activists in Moscow were reported hopeful that the agreement would allow them to leave for Israel, but it the same time they were skeptical that the Soviet Union would live up to its part of the bargain. Aleksandr Lunts, a mathematician, said he believes Soviet authorities “will figure out some sort of deception, like the secrecy requirement.”
Aleksandr Slepak, another Jewish activist, expressed concern about whether the agreement would operate for Jews serving prison terms after seeking to emigrate, and scientists who had been refused exit visas on grounds of security. Slepak said it is important to give Jews who have been seeking visas for years permission to leave because other Jews will be watching to see what happens to them. (By David Friedman)