NEW YORK (Sep. 13)
President Ford and Democratic Presidential candidate Jimmy Carter were criticized for their rejection of the Jackson-Vanik amendment in favor of quiet diplomacy as the approach to achieve free emigration for Jews and others in East European countries.
Rabbi Alexander M. Schindler, president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, who has just returned from a six-day “official” visit in Rumania, told members of the UAHC’s Executive Committee here today that current hearings in Congress linking emigration to an expansion of the most favored nation status to East European nations, including Rumania, would never be taking place without the leverage of the Jackson-Vanik amendment.
Schindler, whose organization represents 720 Reform synagogues and 1.1 million members in the U.S. and Canada, disagreed with individuals like Ford and Carter, “who voice public criticism of the amendment, opting instead for personal diplomacy, on the grounds that such action represents a denegration by equating a moral ideal to the issue of trade.”
“There is nothing morally unworthy when we relate human rights to trade,” he continued. “It demonstrates for all the world to see that the United States is as much concerned about the extension of human rights as it is in the extension of economics and political sway. And that among these human rights, the free movement of peoples is an ideal to which our national honor is pledged.”
Last week, Schindler, as spokesman and chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations–representing 32 agencies–told the Senate Finance Subcommittee on International Trade that the Presidents Conference favored a one-year extension of the most favored nation status to Rumania on the condition that “our government representatives spend every effort” to make certain that the objective of free emigration “be in fact attained.”