WASHINGTON (May. 15)
A bipartisan bloc of 45 Congressmen cautioned the Soviet government today that while many members of Congress want to nurture “the spirit of good feelings and cooperation that has been growing” between the United States and the Soviet Union,” we cannot so long as the repressive treatment of Soviet Jews continues.”
“We would re-emphasize to you,” the Congressmen wrote Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin, “that human rights remains a basic concern of members of Congress, and we see Congressional resolve only hardening in the face of the deteriorating situation (of Jews) in the Soviet Union.”
The Congressmen added: “This of course has grave implications for the future of detente. Congress will not be willing to permit a closer relationship with your country unless it is convinced your government shares a commitment to basic civil rights and liberties. In the absence of that commitment we see only a dim future for the cause of detente. This saddens us as we feel our two countries have much to gain from each other both culturally and technologically.”
The Congressmen’s letter, originated by Reps. Gilbert Gude (R.NY), Benjamin Rosenthal (D.NY) and Jonathan Bingham (D.NY), noted that more than 65 Soviet Jewish men and women have been sentenced to prison terms of from three to 15 years “following their expressed desire to leave the USSR for Israel” and that most of them still remain in Soviet labor camps.