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Grave Concern Expressed About the Deteriorating Plight of the 2.5 Million Jews of the USSR

Representatives of Jewish communities throughout the free world expressed grave concern about the deteriorating plight of the 2.5 million Jews in the Soviet Union and appealed to world leaders to intercede on their behalf with the Kremlin.

A lengthy proclamation, issued last Thursday by the presidium of the World Conference on Soviet Jewry, referred to what it called “a profound crisis” for Jewish life within the Soviet Union.

The statement, issued after three days of discussions by 50 representatives from 20 countries, said that in addition to denying Soviet Jewry’s cultural rights and trying to “hermetically seal” it off from the rest of the Jewish world, Moscow was increasingly using anti-Semitism “as an instrument of domestic and foreign policy.”

With fewer than 1,000 Soviet Jewish emigrants expected this year, compared with 50,000 five years ago, the conference expressed concern about the plight of some 300,000 who had unsuccessfully applied to emigrate despite the official claims of the Soviet Union that nearly all the Jews who wished to leave had already done so.

STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDIUM

Pointing out that the Soviet Union contained about a fifth of the Jewish people, the presidium said: “Our generation, which witnessed the physical extinction of a third of our number, cannot acquiesce in and will withstand with all its vigor a process that can lead to the loss of another two million.”

Their statement continued: “Our task is to urgently mobilize all possible means to gain the release of Soviet Jews who wish to leave and to protect the community rights of those who would remain.” The conference called on all governments to make “the tragedy of Soviet Jewry” a principal item in renewal of East-West discussions “beginning with President Reagan’s meeting with Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko” this week in Washington.

Leon Dulzin, chairman of the Jewish Agency and World Zionist Organization Executives, presided.

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