NEW YORK (Jun. 28)
A State Department spokesperson sought yesterday to reassure concerned American Jews that the Carter Administration is doing everything in its power to safeguard the fundamental human rights of Soviet Jews. Addressing the board of governors of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry here, Patricia Derian, Assistant Secretary of State for Humanitarian Affairs, said that the NCSJ has “brought the problem of Soviet Jews to the forefront of the national conscience.”
“We’re committed to the ability of Russian Jews to leave the Soviet Union without harassment” Derian said. She denounced the recent sentencing to internal exile of activists Vladimir Slepak and Ida Nudel, as well as the impending trials of Anatoly Shcharansky and Alexander Ginzburg, noting that these Soviet violations of the Helsinki Accord “show disrespect for international standards of human rights.” She praised the individuals involved in Helsinki monitoring groups in the Soviet Union for defying the “unrelenting pressure of the Soviet state,” and urged the NCSJ to continue its diligent efforts on behalf of Soviet Jews.
Responding to the question of whether the National Security Council is considering the use of intensified trade leverage against the Soviet Union to protest its human rights violations, Derian said that no policy decision has been reached on this issue as yet. With respect to another country, she pointed out that the State Department has strongly condemned violations of human rights and manifestations of anti-Semitism in Argentina. In opposition to recent actions of the Argentinian government, the Carter Administration has denied the export of weapons and other military assistance to that country.