Mrs. Shcharansky Clashes with Professor on Issue of ‘private Diplomacy’ to Help Dissidents
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Mrs. Shcharansky Clashes with Professor on Issue of ‘private Diplomacy’ to Help Dissidents

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Mrs. Avital Shcharansky today strongly opposed “private diplomacy” as the means to seek alleviation of the plight of Soviet dissidents and Soviet Jewry and supported President Carter’s intercession on her imprisoned husband’s behalf.

Jeremy J. Stone, a Princeton University professor who is director of the Federation of American Scientists, had testified before the House Science and Technology Committee that the U.S. government should attempt to secure the release of some leading Soviet dissidents like Uri Orlov, Alexander Ginzburg and Anatoly Shcharansky “through private diplomacy.”

Stone advocated “limits of responsible activism” in the human rights area and said it is “not good” for the U.S. to help “individuals.” He said he hoped Carter would not “again associate himself with an individual case.”

Responding to Stone’s claim that “threats” will not stop the Russians “being Russian” or “permit all Jews who wish to leave to do so,” Mrs. Shcharansky looked directly at Stone across the witness table and told him his words reminded her of what was said 40 years ago during the Nazi period. People said then, she declared, speaking in Russian, that “Nazis will be Nazis” and individuals in Germany who protested disappeared. She said similar discussions were held then and that “President Roosevelt said, leave me alone about these personal cases. I am fighting fascism in general.”


Challenging Stone’s views that the U.S. should not stop Soviet-American scientific exchanges because the Soviet dissidents want American scientists to visit them, Mrs. Shcharansky asked Stone: “What can a scientist-prisoner tell you except certainly it’s good that you came? Are you ready to sacrifice your scientific career as he (Shcharansky) has? We should be talking about the salvation of these people.”

Stone in reply said that “the harsh sentence imposed on Shcharansky “may be because President Carter made a case” of him. He said conditions had improved in the Soviet Union because 20 years ago Shcharansky would have been shot. He contended that “there’s no question all Americans support” the President’s human rights program but disagree on tactics.

Mrs. Shcharansky was asked by Rep. Robert K. Dorman (R. Calif) what she thought of Carter’s intercession. “It was a very positive gesture,” she replied, noting the President had declared Shcharansky is not a spy.

Several Congressmen clashed with Stone’s view on “private diplomacy” and his criticism of Carter. Rep. Tom Harkin (D. lowa), chairman of the committee, said “I find it very difficult to subscribe to your thesis that President Carter’s personal intervention was the cause” of Shcharansky’s severe sentence. He said that “quiet diplomacy, keeping things under cover, leads to harsher sentences.”

It is “very important not only for Carter but those in Congress to bring these cases to light–wherever they may be,” Harkin said. He named Argentina and Cambodia in his discussion.

Rep. Robert Roe (D. NJ) painted out to Stone that in 1975 when the first Soviet scientist was convicted, Carter was not President and “we were all under the illusion of detente.” That conviction three years ago “was the first clear indication of things to come. There was no great outcry then. There is an outcry now because of Carter’s human rights position.”

Roe approved the suggestion advanced by Prof. John McCarthy, a Stanford University computer scientist, who urged that the U.S. government and American business in dealing with the Soviets should inject a human rights provision in the agreement.


Responding to Harkin’s question whether the Soviet government is dealing with Jews “more harshly than those who are non-Jewish,” Mrs. Shcharansky replied: “In the Soviet Union there is a tradition of anti-Semitism. I am afraid for three million Jews in the Soviet Union. Yes, there is a Jewish problem in the Soviet Union; a problem for the Jewish population; a problem for the rest of the world not to let happen what happened forty years ago.”

She said that people like Nobel scientist Andrei Sakharov “understand a catastrophe is emerging, not only for the Jewish people but a massacre of all human rights advocates. Today there’s war–a war between evil and good.”

Following the appearance before the House committee, Mrs. Shcharansky attended a rally conducted by scientists at the University of Maryland. She leaves for San Francisco tomorrow. The scientists’ interest in Shcharansky centers on his profession as a computer scientist.

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