At the World Conference on Soviet Jewry: Soviet Union Called on to Honor Its Commitment to Helsinki
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At the World Conference on Soviet Jewry: Soviet Union Called on to Honor Its Commitment to Helsinki

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The third World Conference on Soviet Jewry called on the Soviet Union today to honor its commitment to the Helsinki Final Act and “reopen the gates and permit the departure of Soviet Jews, allow their repatriation to Israel, the national homeland of the Jewish people…” The resolution also called for the immediate release of “the Prisoners of Zion,” an end to the persecution of Jews who wish to practice their faith and an “end to the government-sponsored campaign that is fanning the flames of anti-Semitism and hatred of the Jewish people” in the USSR.

Another resolution adopted by the 3,000 delegates from 31 countries attending the conference was addressed to Soviet Jews. “We take upon ourselves a personal vow that your struggle is our struggle, that we are at one with you in your dreams and aspirations. In this struggle we are joined by men and women of many creeds and races and nationalities who cherish human dignity…”


The resolutions were adopted as the conference received further reports of the alarming deterioration of the situation of Soviet Jews. According to information reaching here, Yuri Tarnopolsky, a leading refusenik, was arrested by the KGB this week in Kharkov. Tarnopolsky, 48, a chemist by profession, was refused an exit visa in 1979. He began a hunger strike on October 1, 1982 which he continued until November 9. He is married and the father of a daughter.

Conference sources said his arrest was timed deliberately to dishearten the conference delegates and the hopes of Soviet Jews who may be looking to the conference to bring about an alleviation of their condition.

Other reports to the conference by Soviet Jewish emigres living in Israel and delegates who recently visited the Soviet Union spoke of worsening conditions, increased surveillance of Jews, particularly refuseniks, wider dissemination of anti-Semitic propaganda, increased harassment and overt anti-Semitism by ordinary Russians who shout “Kill the Jews and Save Palestine.”


In a brief speech at the closing session of the conference tonight, Premier Menachem Begin said the awakening of Soviet Jewry is “irrepressible.” He added: “We here in Israel will never give up hope that they will come home to Zion.”

Begin quoted “a reliable source” as saying that a high Soviet official had told him, “Now that the West does not take an interest (regarding Soviet Jews), we can do what we wish.” The “great importance” of the Jerusalem conference, Begin said, was to demonstrate that “the free world does care.”

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