Soviet Jews and Camp David
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Soviet Jews and Camp David

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The Soviet Union has increased Jewish emigration to its highest annual rate in five years, apparently to indicate a desire to improve relations with the United States, the State Department’s chief Soviet specialist has informed Congress.

Ambassador Marshall Shulman, special advisor to Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, also reported that while it is “too early to assess the full impact” of recent Middle East developments on Soviet-American relations, the Soviet Union has not given up its goal of a Geneva conference in which it would participate as a co-equal to the United States as co-chairman.

Shulman testified Tuesday before the House International Relations Subcommittee on Europe and the Middle East on the aftermath of the Camp David summit conference. “What the Soviet position will be in the long run may depend on the position of Syria and the Palestine Liberation Organization,” Shulman testified.

“The Soviet Union has sought to become an active participant in the Middle East negotiations through the convening of a Geneva conference and it has bitterly expressed its frustrations at the course of events that followed President (Anwar) Sadat’s trip to Jerusalem, leading to the Camp David summit meeting.”

In responding to questions from subcommittee chairman Lee Hamilton (D. Ind.), Shulman indicated that the Geneva option, expressed in the Soviet-American statement of last Oct. I remains the Soviets’ ultimate goal and that possibility still exists for a “comprehensive” peace. He also indicated that a reason the Geneva conference has not been held is that the Soviet Union was unable or unwilling to bring Syria and the PLO into the Geneva framework.


The Soviet Union’s Jewish emigration rate has climbed to more than 20,000, the highest since 1973 when it was at the peak level of 33,000, Shulman noted. After the Yom Kippur War, emigration dived to 11,000 in 1974.

Referring to the increased emigration, Shulman told reporters that “I have the impression this is the result of a signal to the Soviet Union” by Congressmen to Soviet Foreign Trade Minister Nikolai Patolichev and his delegation when they visited the Capitol last November. The Congressmen, Shulman said, emphasized to the Soviet group the Jackson-Vanik amendment would not be modified until the Soviet government lifted restrictions on Jews and others who may wish to emigrate.

Shulman observed that “the number of steps on the Soviet side in recent weeks suggests that the Soviet Union wishes to reverse the tide of events. By our actions and by what we say we should make it clear beyond any doubt that if the Soviet leadership chooses the wiser course of restraint and responsibility, they will find the U.S. fully responsive.”

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