WASHINGTON (Feb. 26)
Three prominent non-Jewish Congressmen advised more than 600 college students gathered here to lobby on behalf of Soviet Jews that their efforts are vital to the success of their cause and important to America’s policy on human rights.
Senators Orrin Hatch (R. Utah), Dennis De-Concini (D. Ariz.) and Rep. Jack Kemp (R. NY) addressed the eighth annual International Student Solidarity Day for Soviet Jewry last Thursday.
The gathering was coordinated by the Student Coalition for Soviet Jewry in cooperation with the National Conference on Soviet Jewry, the Union of Councils for Soviet Jews, the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry, and the B’nai B’rith Hillel Foundations. The students, from some 50 colleges across the country, represented 37 states. During their stay they visited about 200 Congressmen.
Hatch, who is a Mormon, termed the student’s lobbying efforts important and noted that his own awareness of the plight of Soviet Jews was brought about by last year’s gathering of college students here. He pledged to help the campus coalition “in every way I can” and said he believes that the U.S. should link human rights to its relations with the Soviet Union.
OBLIGATION TO BE THE VOICE OF SOVIET JEWS
Kemp told the collegians that “it is important to recognize that we have an obligation to be the voice” of Soviet Jews. He noted that when Soviet Jews attempt to speak out on their own behalf, they Frequently are imprisoned or confined to mental hospitals. “If we don’t speak out, nobody will,” he declared.
“It is essential,” Kemp emphasized, to lobby everyone: conservatives, people from Kansas as well as New York and others who seem “unlikely” supporters of the cause. “There is no issue more unifying than the struggle for human rights,” he stated.
“America cannot be America if it does not stand up for human rights, one of its foundations,” Kemp declared. “Israel and the United States are one, Jew and gentile are one. It is our obligation to fight for human rights.”
DeConcini said that he and his staff have written frequently to Soviet leaders, including the late Yuri Andropov. Quoting a Soviet Jew with whom he exchanged letters, DeConcini said: “Our only hope is that you keep in contact with us.”