Goldberg Says USSR Has Not Lived Up to Its Commitment to Helsinki Act
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Goldberg Says USSR Has Not Lived Up to Its Commitment to Helsinki Act

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Ambassador Arthur J. Goldberg who headed the American delegation at the Belgrade conference to review the Helsinki Final Act, charged last night that the ideals to which the Soviet Union has committed itself in the Final Act are far from realization.

He said this was evidenced by the fact that Jews in the USSR are still unable to exercise freely their right to emigrate, to practice their religion or develop their culture and by the Soviet Union’s inclination "to retreat for a time into retribution" when confronted with "honest criticism."

Goldberg, the former Ambassador of the United States to the United Nations, reported on the Belgrade conference at the opening session of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry (NCSJ) leadership conference here. (See related story, P. 4.)

Earlier, more than 1000 school children from the Greater Washington area marched from Lafayette Park, in front of the White House, to the Soviet Embassy where they attempted to deliver a letter addressed to Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev appealing for the rights of Soviet Jewish children to emigrate to Israel or elsewhere. The youngsters waited outside the Embassy for 10 minutes but no one appeared to accept their letter.


Goldberg told the NCSJ leaders that the record at Jews in the USSR shows that they are not able to "freely profess and exercise their religion, fully develop their national heritage and culture, nor live without fear of reprisal and without prejudice to their ability to work or study, to seek to exercise the right guaranteed not only in the Helsinki Final Act but also in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to leave their country to go to Israel or to another country of their choice."

He said that the Soviet Union’s "sensitivity to honest criticism can lead it to retreat for a time into retribution." Referring to the recent imprisonment of Jewish activists and other dissidents, Goldberg declared: "The temptation exists as we have seen in its reaction to the brave efforts of individuals–many but by no means all of whom are Jewish–to monitor Soviet compliance with Final Act.

"What happens to these individuals–the Orlovs, the Ginsburghs and to Anatoly Shcharansky, who combines in his person both the role of monitor and ‘refusenik’, seeking to exercise his right to emigrate to Israel–will tell us much about how in the short term the Soviet Union will respond to this new imperative of international affairs and about how far the detente process can presently go."


He called "detente between East and West precarious and subject to reversal" but added: "Over the long run I am confident that the powerful idea of human rights, not only for Jews but for all, which was articulated in Brussels seven years ago and which has now become a central element, must prevail." Goldberg said that the U.S. government will publish the proceedings of the Belgrade conference which lasted six months and ended early this year.

He also said he was disappointed by the poor press coverage of the conference, especially by the American press, but attributed it largely to the fact that most of the sessions were closed. He said he was not sure that he would attend the next conference to monitor the Final Act which is to be held in Madrid in 1980 but will continue to discuss human rights with American and world leaders in the interim.

The children’s march to the Soviet Embassy was the opening event of National Solidarity Day for Soviet Jewry. It drew a crowd of some 4000. The rally that preceded it was addressed by several members of Congress.

The letter addressed to Brezhnev pointed out that the principle of the Helsinki Final Act was the right of "all people to live in a country of their choice. That chance to go elsewhere is why our parents and grandparents came to this country," the letter continued. "We can work to build our country or we can leave and grow up elsewhere. In fact, many of our friends and their families have gone to Israel to build a Jewish state."

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