NEW YORK (Jul. 27)
Forty Soviet Jewish activists from eight cities have issued an appeal to “all the countries participating in the European Security Conference in Helsinki to assist us in reuniting with our relatives in Israel,” the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry reported today. The SSSJ said the reason for the appeal was that the activists had heard that the conference “had accepted the principles of assisting the reunification of separated families.”
Commenting on the appeal, Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Director of the Greater New York Conference on Soviet Jewry said that “one of the forms of harassment employed by Soviet authorities against Soviet Jews applying for visas to Israel is the forced separation of families. Increasingly this new tactic is in evidence, with parents separated from children and husbands from wives. The European Security Conference has called for the facilitation of the reunification of families. If the Soviet Union is truly interested in detente and cooperative endeavors, then let it start by implementing these most basic human principles.”
In a related development, thousands of New York residents of all faiths sent telegrams to President Ford asking him to remember the plight of Soviet Jews in his talks with Soviet Communist Party General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev and to give priority to human rights considerations at the security conference. Citing the decrease in Soviet Jewish emigration and the sharp rise in harassment, they also urged the President to seek repeal of the recently announced tax on charity sent to Soviet Jews and others.