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Failure of Soviet Authorities to Deliver Mail Sent by American to Russian Jews Probed by House Group

The House Subcommittee on Postal Service is investigating charges that the U.S. Postal Service is lukewarm in protesting the failure of Soviet authorities to deliver mail sent by Americans to Russian Jews, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency learned today. Rep. James M. Hanley (D.NY), the subcommittee’s chairman, has requested the Postal Service to provide detailed information on its action with Soviet officials over the failure of parcels and insured mail to reach their destinations in the Soviet Union.

The investigation stems from the demand in a letter to Hanley by Rep. Joshua Eilberg (D.Pa.) that “our postal officials should be doing everything they can to get the Russians to deliver mail which originates in this country rather than giving up after a minimum effort.”

By seemingly “doing little or nothing on behalf of U.S. citizens who have been refused” both the return of their parcels or indemnification for insured mail, Eilberg wrote Hanley, the Postal Service, “in effect,” is “cooperating with the Soviet Union’s policy of persecuting its Jewish citizens.”

Eilberg said that he had forwarded complaints about Soviet policy to the Postal Service and had received in reply “a copy of the regulations which the Russians are probably using to stop delivery of the mail.” He added, “There is no evidence of any attempt beyond a routine inquiry to have the Russians deliver the mail.”

PROBLEMS GREATER WITH SOVIET SERVICE

Capitol sources familiar with the matter told JTA that the Postal Service has similar problems with other countries but they are “twice as great” with the Soviet service. The U.S. service has “limited leverage,” one source said, that it can employ against the Soviet authorities and even that “modest leverage is severely limited by the State Department” because of its efforts not to ruffle aspects of Soviet-American detente.

Eilberg had a brush with U.S. postal authorities two years ago when Jews in New Jersey and Pennsylvania sent packages of matzo to Soviet Jews through the Soviet Embassy here. The Embassy refused to accept the packages and the U.S. postal authorities stored them in quarters where they were subject to vermin and other forms of spoilage. Postal authorities thereupon burned the matzos estimated at about 20,000 pounds. A Congressional inquiry into the matter resulted in a rebuke to the postal authorities for their handling of the matter.

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