Dulzin Criticizes Bronfman for Proposing That the U.S. Repeal the Jackson/vanik Amendment

Leon Dulzin has sharply criticized World Jewish Congress president Edgar Bronfman for proposing that the U.S. repeal the Jackson/Vanik amendment to the 1974 Foreign Trade Act as a gesture toward the Soviet Union that might induce it to ease restrictions on Jewish emigration.

Dulzin, chairman of the Jewish Agency and World Zionist Organization Executives, called Bronfman’s suggestion in a recent op-ed page article in The New York Times “irresponsible and seriously flawed.”

Speaking at the weekly meeting of the WZO Executive yesterday, Dulzin said proposals such as Bronfman’s were especially grave in view of the Soviet reaction to the international conference on Soviet Jewry held in Jerusalem earlier this year, which was to set up the “Anti-Zionist Committee of the Soviet Public.”

BRONFMAN SEES REPEAL AS GOOD WILL GESTURE

The amendment, co-sponsored by Sen. Henry Jackson (D. Wash.) and Rep. Charles Vanik (D. Ohio), linked most favored nation trade status for the Soviet Union and other Communist bloc countries to their emigration policies.

Bronfman argued that repeal of the amendment might be viewed as a good-will gesture by the Soviet authorities and induce them to allow more Jews to leave. Jewish emigration from the USSR has been slowed almost to a halt this past year and many sources have suggested that it will increase only if U.S.-Soviet relations improve.

Dulzin said he would invite Bronfman to a session of the Executive to discuss the issue raised in his article. Jewish Agency Treasurer Akiva Lewinsky and Eli Tavin agreed that the matter should be discussed with Bronfman and urged all Jewish organizations to adopt a unified line toward the USSR.

ABRAM ALSO REACTS CRITICALLY

(Morris Abram, chairman of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry, also reacted critically to Bronfman’s proposal in a letter published in The New York Times today. According to Abram, the call for repeal of the Jackson/Vanik amendment “could not have come at a more unfortunate time. ” He noted that “in the very week Bronfman recommended unilateral U.S. concessions as’a sign of good will’, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights Charles H. Fairbanks, Jr. warned that this new Soviet (anti-Zionist) committee is a part of stepped-up anti-Semitism campaigns which emanate from the central government” of the USSR.

(According to Abram, “The Jackson/Vanik amendment was one response to the impetus which Soviet anti-Semitism added to the desire of Soviet Jews to be repatriated to Israel, despite the great personal risk involved … It is unseemly to respond to Soviet threats of repression by instant calls to examine what America is doing wrong.”)

Dulzin, who just returned from a brief visit to Mexico on behalf of the Keren Hayesod, told the WZO Executive that despite the difficult economic situation in that country, the Jews there continue to donate to the fund.

NEXT STORY