WASHINGTON (Jun. 13)
“Under present conditions, there is no future for Jews who wish to live as Jews to do so in the Soviet Union,” Yuli Tartakovsky told a panel of Congressmen yesterday. He testified at hearings before the Senate Foreign Relations Commit- tee on protecting and promoting religious rights in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. The hearings are related to a bill introduced in the Senate on June 7.
“For most Jews there are only two alternatives: to assimilate or to leave. Neither option seems possible at the present time,” the 37-year-old credit analyst, now an American citizen, said while relating his harassment after filing an application for an exit visa from the Soviet Union.
Eight experts on regional religious issues, religious issues in specific countries, and law and practices of the Warsaw Pact states testified before the committee chaired by Sens. Charles Percy (R. Ill.) and Claiborne Pell (D. R.I.), who are cosponsors of the bill.
In his opening remarks, Percy emphasized the need for regular summit conferences between the leaders of the United States and the Soviet Union. “Certainly, I am confident that human rights, would be on the agenda at such summit meetings,” Percy stated, “and President Reagan would make the case emphatically that the Soviet Union has an international commitment and a moral obligation to end its harassment of religious believers once and for all.”
KOREY SEES ‘CRISIS’ FOR JEWS
Dr. William Korey, director of International Policy Research of the B’nai B’rith International Policy Council, told the panel, “the plight of Soviet Jews has reached crisis proportions which warrant the urgent attention of the international community.”
Korey said the most critical aspects of their plight are: anti-Semitism in the Soviet mass media; anti-Jewish discrimination in higher education and employment; the official drive against the study and teaching of the Hebrew language and Jewish history; the current attempt to sever links between Soviet Jews and their brethren abroad; and the virtual halting of Jewish emigration.
“Anti-Jewish discrimination in higher education is particularly disturbing for Soviet Jewish youth who now must envisage a future of severely limited opportunities,” Korey stated. “Data on the admission of Jews to universities and postgraduate studies show an incredible 50 percent decline during the past decade.
“Samizdat information reveals Jewish applicants are given especially difficult oral examinations in order to weed them out. The inevitable result is a sharp drop in the number of Jews annually entering the scientific professions while the ‘security’ professions of diplomacy and the military are practically Judenrein,” Korey said.
He added that “Jewish culture and tradition in the USSR have been subjected to crippling blows. It is supremely ironic that the USSR with some 2.5 million Jews has no means for the training of rabbis and has had to obtain half of its approximately half-dozen rabbis from Hungary where only 70,000 Jews reside. The current total number of Soviet rabbis together with the total number of synagogues–about 55 — is a tragic commentary upon a once-flourishing tradition,” Korey stated.
To fill this vacuum, Jews have organized self-study groups to learn Hebrew and Jewish history, Korey explained. “But these groups are today being threatened and intimidated by the authorities. The official press has warned that the teaching and study of Hebrew border on the subversive.”
Dr. Ernest Gordon, president of the Christian Rescue Effort for the Emancipation of Dissidents (CREED), described Soviet repression against Evangelical Christians, Mennonites, Baptists and Pentecostals. “The Communist dominated countries of Eastern Europe seem to follow the same pattern as that initiated by the Soviet Union,” Gordon stated.