New York (Jun. 23)
President Reagan gave his personal assurances today that the fate of Soviet Jews will continue to be on the United States’ agenda in any negotiations with the Soviet Union. In a telephone call to Theodore Mann, chairman of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry (NCSJ), the President said he has already communicated this fact to Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev in a personal note.
The President’s telephone call was in response to a letter of June 16 from Mann, in which the American Jewish leader conveyed a message given him on his recent trip to the Soviet Union by 15 Jewish emigration activists from several cities in the USSR. The message expressed gratitude to the President for his recent meeting with Avital Shcharansky, wife of Prisoner of Conscience Anatoly Shcharansky, and a recently released former prisoner Josif Mendelevich.
In his discussion with Mann, the President said he was “working on the issue” of Soviet Jewry, but believed it was sometimes wiser not to deal in headlines, but in a more direct manner. Mann told the President that the plight of Soviet Jewry was of great concern to many American citizens, and a priority for the Jewish community, a fact acknowledged by Reagan, who also indicated his concern for some Christians struggling to leave the Soviet Union because of persecution.
Following the conversation with the President, Mann expressed his belief that “this Administration has a strong interest in the fate of Soviet Jewry” and supports their right to emigrate, to be repatriated to Israel and to be runited with their families.