WASHINGTON (Jun. 13)
A Carter Administration spokesperson and the chairman of the Republican National Committee came to the National Solidarity Convocation for Soviet Jews here last night to affirm their support for Jews in the Soviet Union, including their right to emigrate.
They spoke to more than 3000 persons in Constitution Hall from a dais with signs posted behind the speakers saying “Let My People Go.” Under the joint sponsorship of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry (NCSJ) and the Jewish Community Council of Greater Washington, the audience representing a cross-section of Jewish community leaders, members of the United States Congress and dozens of inter-religious leaders heard Margaret Costanza, assistant to President Carter, say that while the United States is for detente with the Soviet Union it is also for human rights.
“Let me assure you that we will seek every productive way to promote the cause of human rights here and abroad, that we will strive to make our efforts consistent, nondiscriminatory and effective, that in our relations with other countries, human rights will occupy a place of prominence and importance,” she said.
Sen. William Brock (R. Tenn.), who is the GOP chairman, told the gathering: “Our presence here today is a demonstration to Soviet Jews that they are not alone in their struggle for dignity and freedom. As I have said in the past and repeat again, we can deal successfully with the leaders of the Soviet Union only from a position of strength and principle. To retreat from our insistence that Jews have the right to live as Jews in the Soviet Union or to leave to live as Jews elsewhere undermines the cause of free men everywhere. Though I am not a member of the President’s party, I can assure him here tonight that the cause of human rights is not a Democratic or Republican cause, it is an American cause.”
Another speaker, Sen. Birch Bayh (D. Ind.), said that the Soviet Union has itself called attention to its ” inability and unwillingness” to “accommodate the desire of its own citizens for freedom. Today America speaks with a clear voice in the fresh spirit of American foreign policy being pursued by President Carter. At long last this country once again stands for something and that something is the yearning of the human spirit for liberty.”
EVENT ENDS SOLIDARITY MONTH
Sharing the platform with Eugene Gold, NCSJ chairman, was Natalya Sharansky, wife of imprisoned Soviet Jewish emigration activist Anatoly Sharansky, who was recently charged with treason and is being held in Moscow’s Lefortovo prison. Mrs. Sharahsky held up a petition on her husband’s behalf to be delivered to President Carter. Also speaking was Eleanor Holmes Norton, newly-appointed Commissioner of the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission and Lazar Liubarsky, former Soviet Jewish Prisoner of Conscience now touring the U.S.
A message of support from Soviet Jewish activists was read to the crowd just before a candlelight procession marched to Lincoln Memorial where an inter-religious service including Catholic and Protestant clergy from the Washington and Philadelphia communities took place. The event ended a month-long series of demonstrations across the country as part of National Solidarity Month for Soviet Jews, and fell on the eve of the NCSJ Leadership Assembly at Washington’s International Inn today and tomorrow.