Washington (Feb. 10)
In its report to Congress on human rights in 1980 in 153 countries, the State Department pointed to "virulent anti-Semitic literature" in Argentina and the imprisonment of Jews in the Soviet Union "for teaching Hebrew."
"The human rights situation in Argentina improved in 1980 although serious problems remained," the Department said. The most serious, it said, was "the continued application by the security forces of the practices of disappearance, although at a level much lower than occurred in the first two years of the present military regime." Violence began in 1969 and "mounted steadily from the left and then from the right."
Noting that the majority of Argentinians are Catholic and the government "publicly condemns religious prejudice," the report made public by Congress yesterday mentioned that the Jewish community numbers between 300,000 and 450,000 and added:
"Argentine Jews have well-developed community organizations, exercise their religion without restraints and participate fully in Argentine economic and cultural life. The government maintains correct relations with the Jewish community and there is no evidence of official anti-Semitic policy, although incidents of anti-Semitism occur.
CREDIBLE REPORTS OF ANTI-SEMITISM
"During the height of the ‘dirty war’ there were credible reports of anti-Semitic behavior by the security forces and persecution of Jewish prisoners. Virulent anti-Semitic literature remains on sale in the country and openly anti-Semitic attitudes have been tolerated in state-controlled television. Several Jewish schools were bombed in July and August and more received anonymous threats. Though the culprits were never found the governments ought to reassure Argentine Jews."
The report also mentioned that the Inter-American Human Rights Commission that visited Argentina in 1979 noted that "there is no official policy of anti-Semitism although in some instances Jews have been the subject of discrimination."
SOVIET UNION HARSHLY CRITICIZED
Discussing the Soviet Union, which was among the most harshly criticized countries in the report, the Department pointed to "continuing restrictions placed on emigration leading to the reduction of Jewish emigration by more than half" in 1980 compared with 1979.
It noted "such human rights activists as Ida Nudel and Vladimir Slepak remain in exile" and the "detention" of Moscow monitoring group member Anatoly Shcharansky who is in a Siberian prison camp. Under the heading of "arbitrary arrest and imprisonment," the report referred to Yuri Fedorov, Oleski Mrzehnko and Yosif Mendelevich, and the remaining imprisoned members of the group convicted in Leningrad in 1970 for trying to seize an empty airline on the ground and fly out of the USSR.
Noting Soviet law "prohibits religious believers" from providing religious training to children, the report said: "There have been continuing reports of anti-Semitism as reflected in discrimination against Jews in access to higher education and the professions. Officially condoned, published attacks on Zionism, which appear only thinly to veil anti-Semitic feelings, also have aroused concern. Jews have been subjected to imprisonment for teaching Hebrew."
The report noted "application procedures for emigration are cumbersome and expensive" although the cost of an emigration passport to a "capitalist country" has been cut from 400 Rubles to 200 (about $310), those going to Israel pay 500 Rubles ($775) down from 800 Rubles in 1976.
"A delay is often used against potential emigrants," the report said. "Many Soviet Jews have waited unsuccessfully more than eight years for permission to leave" and "because in most cases those who apply to emigrate lose their jobs, they are exposed to the danger of being prosecuted as ‘parasites’."
Noting 21,000 Jews were allowed to emigrate in 1980 compared with 51,000, a record in 1979, the report said: "According to Jewish sources in the Soviet Union, the drop may be explained by the deterioration in East-West relations and Soviet fears of a Jewish ‘braindrain.’ Jewish sources estimate that there are still over 200,000 Jews holding letters of invitations from Israel, which are needed to apply to emigrate."
SITUATION IN RUMANIA
In its report on Rumania, the State Department said: "Rumania maintains a tight emigration policy and has strict limitations on political expression and religious activities outside of officially designated church buildings." Among recognized religious groups are the "Islamic and Jewish religions" and "people belonging to these recognized religions may attend religious services freely."
The report added, "There is no rabbinical seminary and the rabbis must be trained in foreign countries. The Communist Party advocates atheism and as a result, a Party member who attends religious services is unlikely to progress within the Party structure."
In another passage, the report said that "The Rumanian government discourages emigration and contends that a Rumanian does not have the right to move permanently from his native land." But the government’s policy allows for family reunification and for the emigration of Jews and ethnic Germans. "Largely due to emigration, the Jewish population of Rumania has declined from approximately 450,000 people at the close of World War II to about 35,000 today, according to records of the Rumanian Jewish community."
REPORT ON IRAQ
In its report on Iraq, the State Department said "The size of the Jewish community in Iraq is believed to number fewer than 300, composed mainly of older people. The extent of their community’s religious activity is not known." In another context, the report said that the Iraqi government "pursues a policy aimed at assimilating its various ethnic and religious groups, including the Jewish minority."
A report on Iran was not included, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said, "because sensitive negotiations for the release of the American hostages from Iran were underway at the time these reports were submitted." It added that the State Department will submit a report on Iran "shortly."
With respect to East Germany, the report said "The very small Jewish community receives government financial support for its activities, including the building and maintenance of synagogues and the maintenance of an old aged home. There are no Jewish schools and no resident rabbi."