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N.y.c. Council Adopts Resolution Affirming Commitment to Speak out on Behalf of Soviet Jewry

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The New York City Council adopted a resolution today affirming its commitment to speak out for Soviet Jewry at every opportunity and to work unceasingly to open the gates for those Jews who wish to leave the Soviet Union. The resolution was introduced by Councilman Robert Dryfoos (D. Man.).

At a press conference on the steps of City Hall this morning, Dryfoos and Dr. Seymour Lachman, chairman of the Greater New York Conference on Soviet Jewry (GNYCSJ), marked the halfway point of the incarceration of Soviet Jewish activist Anatoly Shcharansky who was sentenced to 13 years’ imprisonment 6 1/2 years ago and is presently confined to Chistipol Prison.

They decried the “consistent and brutal denial of the fundamental human rights of hundreds of thousands of Soviet Jews who wish to emigrate to escape the repression and persecution which have become systemic features of Soviet life or who wish to leave the Soviet Union for Israel.”

CITES ‘A TRAGIC SITUATION’

Introducing his resolution, Dryfoos noted that “In 1983, the right to emigrate from the Soviet Union will be granted to only 1,200 Soviet Jews.” He said that “When compared to the 51,000 Jews who were permitted to leave the Soviet Union in 1979, the figures seem that much more meager. More Soviet Jews left the Soviet Union each day in 1979 than in any month in 1983. It is a tragic situation.”

Lachman commended “the initiative of Council Member Dryfoos and his colleagues in the City Council and applaud their steadfast support for Anatoly Shcharansky … He has become a symbol of the courage of all Soviet Jews who are striving to live freely as Jews. All of us must continue our efforts to facilitate Shcharansky’s release and to raise our voices on his behalf whenever we can.”

Dryfoos, in his remarks, warned that the issue of Soviet Jewry “cannot be relegated to a peripheral concern, even with the issue of the Soviet attack on the commercial airliner dominating the discussions between our two nations. Soviet Jewry must be raised at every diplomatic session involving the United States and the Soviet Union. For too long, freedom and liberty have been distant dreams for Soviet Jews. There is surely no time to be silent.”

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