Korey: Emigration of Soviet Jews is Part of the Atmosphere of Detente
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Korey: Emigration of Soviet Jews is Part of the Atmosphere of Detente

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Willion Korey, director of international policy research of the International Council of B’nai B’rith, and author of “The Soviet Cage,” believes that the emigration of Soviet Jews is part of the atmosphere of detente.

In an interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, he indicated that the picture, however, is very complex. The Jackson-Vanik amendment, which was originally designed to encourage the Soviets to open their doors to permit Jewish emigration, has had only limited utility.

“For one thing, the Russians neither asked for, nor recognize the legitimacy of the amendment, Korey said. “Secondly, the United States, in a little known amendment to another bill, effectively neutralized the Jackson-Vanik amendment by limiting the number of credits available to favored nations.”

While recognizing the limitations of the Jackson-Vanik legislation, Korey does not subscribe to the thesis espoused by a number of world Jewish leaders that the amendment is counterproductive and that it has worked against Soviet Jewish emigration.

“The drop in emigration is unrelated to the passage of the amendment: there was a sharp decrease in the number of Soviet Jews months before the legislation. On the other hand the Jackson-Vanik bill helped convince the Soviets to drop their education tax on emigres.”


Korey believes that the Soviet-Jewish emigration should be seen in the proper perspective. “You know, the German Federal Republic believes in quiet diplomacy in trying to effect the emigration of the Volga Germans and the other Germans who have been trying to leave Russia,” he said.”Yet the West German government has only effected the emigration of a tiny number of Germans in contrast to the large number of Soviet Jews who have been permitted to leave.”

With regard to the general question of emigration, Korey recognizes the paradox which sees detente as a factor in Soviet policy towards Jews. “For the Soviets the Mideast situation is relevant: they are ardent supporters of the Syrians and the PLO. Jews cannot become critics of Israel in order to satisfy the demands of detente.”

In pressing for Soviet Jewish emigration, Korey feels that moral suasion is still an important factor.

“During the Stalin years this approach would have been useless but under the current regime it is possible.”

Korey believes that protests against Soviet performers, providing they are done without alienating audiences, are effective means in keeping the issue of Soviet Jewry in the public eye. “Spreading mice on the floor during concerts is not what I would call an effective technique because you lose the people you want to persuade.”

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