WASHINGTON (Oct. 22)
Secretary of State George Shultz pledged today that as the United States intends to build a “new, more constructive period in Soviet-American relations” following President Reagan’s recent meeting with Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko, it will continue to stress the plight of Soviet Jews and other human rights issues.
“I hope that no one, either in the Soviet Union or in this country, seriously entertains the idea that once negotiations are underway, the United States will refrain from raising our human rights concerns,” Shultz told the Leadership Assembly of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry (NCSJ) at the Capital Hilton Hotel.
“If improvement in Soviet human rights performance continues as in the past to be nothing more than the cynical manipulation of human lives for political purposes, then the Soviets cannot expect that international — and interna — pressures for better performance will stop growing.”
Shultz said the Soviet Union pays a “large and steadily increasing” price of censure and isolation for its human rights violations.” We shall continue to do all in our power to see that the price continues to increase,” he stressed.
The Secretary of State was presented with the NCSJ’s Humanitarian Award by Kenneth Bialkin, president of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith and chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. The award was a shofar mounted on wood with the inscription in Hebrew and English: “Sound the Great Shofar of Freedom.”
Bialkin noted that Shultz has made the struggle for Soviet Jewry “his own” and it has become a “fundamental touchstone of American foreign policy.”
SOVIET JEWRY CONDITION IS ‘VERY GRIM’
Shultz told the Jewish leaders attending the Assembly that he wishes he could attend a meeting like this one with “something to celebrate.” But he noted the condition of Soviet Jewry “remains very grim. Soviet persecution of Jews and other minorities has not only not diminished, it seems to be getting worse.”
The Secretary cited the continued imprisonment of Anatoly Shcharansky as well as recent examples. “Within the past two months four well known Hebrew teachers have been arrested in what appears to be an intensifying campaign of repression aimed specifically at Jewish cultural activities,” he said.
“In the Soviet view, apparently, promoting identification with one’s religious and cultural heritage constitutes ‘anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda’.”
Shultz said the Soviets have been trying to discourage emigration applications by “continuing to threaten many refuseniks in psychiatric hospitals, expulsion from their jobs and internal exile. While all this has been going one, there has been an alarming upsurge in officially sanctioned anti-Semitic propaganda.”
In addition, he noted that emigration “has come to a virtual standstill.” He said that some 1,300 Jews left the USSR in 1983 and “this year it looks like fewer than a thousand Jews will leave the Soviet Union” even though “thousands of Soviet Jews have applied for exit visas.”
U.S. SPEAKING OUT ON HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS
Shultz pledged that “the United States therefore continues to speak out at every opportunity against Soviet human rights violations.” He said that in all diplomatic discussions, including the recent Reagan-Gromyko meeting at the White House, “we have stressed human rights issues.”
The Secretary rejected a Soviet view that human rights are an internal matter. “In the aftermath and in the everlasting memory of the Holocaust, this attitude must be relentlessly exposed as a gross moral evasion,” he said. He added that “we recognize that governments not at peace with their own people are unlikely to be at peace with their neighbors.”
The three-day NCSJ Leadership Assembly marks its 20th anniversary on behalf of Soviet Jewry. “We go on because the fight is not yet won and we cannot stop until it is,” Bialkin declared. Shultz sounded the same theme as he left the meeting. “We keep struggling and somehow, someday we are going to succeed,” he said.
FONDA PAYS TRIBUTE TO NUDEL
At a dinner tonight the NCSJ presented its Solidarity Award to Jane Fonda for her efforts on behalf of long time refusenik lda Nudel. Nudel “has risked much to stand up to Soviet authorities to practice her faith, and to celebrate her Jewish heritage,” Fonda said. “She continues to be a source of spiritual support for many other refuseniks and prisoners of conscience.”
Fonda paid tribute to the 53-year-old Nudel with a multimedia presentation compiled during a trip the actress made to the Soviet Union last April when she spent three days with Nudel. It was the first time in six years that Nudel, who now lives in unofficial exile, in the Moldavian town of Bendery, was permitted visitors from the West.
Many of those attending the Assembly participated today in the daily noon vigil across from the Soviet Embassy.