WASHINGTON (Jan. 27)
Sen. Alan Cranston (D. Calif.) said today that the emigration of Soviet Jewry is “linked” to the status of United States-Soviet relations.
Soviet Jewish emigration decreases as it did last year and harassment of Jews increases when U.S.-Soviet “bilateral relations deteriorate,” Cranston told the presidium of the World Conference on Soviet Jewry which is holding its semi-annual meeting at the B’nai B’rith International headquarters here. The Senator noted that the harsh treatment of Jews in the USSR contributes to poor relations between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.
On the situation in Poland, Cranston, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that the State Department working group on Poland has been monitoring reports of anti-Jewish actions there, such as reports of Jews being pushed out of food lines. He said the Department has protested these harassments. However, Cranston noted, it is difficult to verify what is going on in Poland.
BLEAK SITUATION OF SOVIET JEWS
Leon Dulzin, World Conference chairman and chairman of the Jewish Agency and the World Zionist Organization, painted a bleak picture of the situation of Soviet Jewry. He said that only 100 to 300 Jews are able to leave each month while the number of refuseniks increase. He said that Prisoners of Zion have increased from 5 to 50 persons now in labor camps or
Dulzin blamed the decrease in emigration on the increase in dropouts. He said the Soviet Union accepted emigration on the basis of reunion of family and the repatriation of Jews to their homeland, Israel. But he said with more and more emigrants going to other countries than Israel, especially the United States, Soviet officials view this as a rejection of the Soviet regime which cannot be tolerated.
Dulzin said that he understands the argument of many that Soviet Jewish emigrants should have “freedom of choice” but he stressed that in the present situation it is not a question of freedom of choice but fear for the future of Soviet Jewry and the danger that the Soviet Union will close the door on Jewish emigration.
PRAISES RECENT HIAS DECISION
He praised Edwin Shapiro, president of HIAS and a member of the presidium, for the recent decision by HIAS not to aid Soviet Jews to come to the U.S. unless they have close relatives here. HIAS aid for Soviet Jewry has long been a bone of contention between the organization and the Jewish Agency.
The presidium, comprising 65 Jewish leaders from 14 countries will decide before they conclude their meetings tomorrow when to hold a third Brussels World Conference on Soviet Jewry. The first two were held in 1971 and 1976. Dulzin said the National Conference on Soviet Jewry in the U.S. has urged that the conference be held as soon as possible. He called on Jews everywhere to renew the successful slogan of the Soviet Jewry movement, “Let my people go,” adding, “Let my people go to their ancient homeland, to Israel.”