GENEVA (Mar. 11)
The head of the Israeli delegation to the United Nations Human Rights Commission delivered a strong denunciation of Soviet anti-Semitism today. The Israeli envoy, Ambassador Ovadia Soffer, spoke in the course of debate on “serious violations of human rights in the world.”
But an equally strong speech expected from the United States on the treatment of Jews in the USSR, did not materialize. Although Jacob Stein, who was President Reagan’s special advisor on Jewish affairs until last January, was sent to Geneva to speak out on the subject, the U.S. delegation deferred to the Commission chairman’s appeal to limit speeches because of the shortage of time. The American statement was circulated as an official document.
Western diplomats, surprised by that decision, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that “the American delegate was probably quite satisfied at not having to make the speech and thus not enter in a polemic” with the Soviet representative, Valerian Zorin, known for his acerbic style.
Soffer, for his part, accused the Soviets of State-sponsored anti-Semitism. “The Soviet Jews continuously fall prey to the whims of the authorities who regularly subject them to all types of humiliation and harassment,” the Israeli said. “The Soviets have unleashed a new wave of judicial repression which has brought about, during the past six months, the sentencing of nine Jewish activists.”
Soffer charged that “The violation of the basic, human rights of the Jews takes place in concert with or alarming, centrally directed anti-Semitic campaign which is disguised as anti-Zionism.”
Another speaker on Soviet Jews was Leila Seigel, representing the International Council of Jewish Women which has the status of a non-governmental organization on the Human Rights Commission. She referred to the cases of Jewish activists Pavel, Abramovic, Josif Begun, Mark Nashpitz, Vladimir Prestin, Emmanuel and Alia Smelyansky and Boris Zitserman who have been waiting since 1971 for permits to leave the Soviet Union.