NEW YORK (Mar. 22)
Carl Glick, president of HIAS, issued what he termed the “first official and public statement” on the issue of Soviet Jews who opt to go to countries other than Israel when they reach Vienna. Addressing more than 1000 guests at the 93rd annual meeting of HIAS Sunday, he said: “With the danger to Jews in the USSR still great, HIAS will help them to emigrate to wherever it is they choose to go. We will continue this policy until such time when Jews the world over are free to determine their final destination.”
During the past year, Glick said. “HIAS was importuned by a small number of persons to cease assistance to Russian Jews in Vienna who left the Soviet Union with Israeli visas.” The HIAS board of directors and officers regarded any such action “as detrimental to the interests of the Jews of the Soviet Union, the diaspora generally and Israel,” he stated.
“They recognized that anti-Semitism remains rampant in the Soviet Union. Current newspaper headlines which report harassments and jailings are proof of the continuing danger to the Jews of Russia. It has been and remains the mission of HIAS to assist Jews to move from countries where they are unwanted–where they are in danger as Jews–to countries where they can be comfortable and prosper as Jews.”
Accordingly. Glick continued, the HIAS board of directors “has determined that HIAS will assist all Jewish refugees who need help–whatever the condition and circumstance of their temporary travel documents.” In so doing, he said, “we believe we are acting in accordance with the highest precepts of the Jewish tradition. We firmly believe we are fulfilling the needs of the Soviet Jews and the wishes of the American Jewish communities.”
CARTER URGED TO AID ALL DISSIDENTS
The meeting was also marked by a standing ovation given to Elie Wiesel who was presented with the HIAS 1977 Liberty Award for his efforts on behalf of world Jewry. The 1975 Nobel Prize nominee for literature called upon President Carter to “take under his wing” all Soviet dissidents” as he noted the “pre-pogrom atmosphere” in the Soviet Union today and stressed the need for renewed and revitalized Jewish solidarity.
Wiesel declared that “the one concept that prevails in Jewish history” is that of solidarity. The Jews’ purpose is to bring all Jews together. “whomever they are, wherever they come from, whatever language they speak. Whomever wants to be helped should be helped, no questions asked.” he said.
Gaynor I. Jacobson. HIAS executive vice-president, calling the work of the various cooperating Jewish agencies “an effective partnership in helping Jews to gain the right of freedom of choice,” made special mention of Attorney General Griffin Bell’s action of extending parole for Soviet refugees in Italy, which had the cooperation and support of House and Senate committees and the State Department.