Soviet Union’s Treatment of Jews Compared to S. Africa’s Apartheid

The Soviet Union’s treatment of Jews was likened to South Africa’s apartheid policies by the head of the United States delegation to the United Nations Human Rights Commission, Ambassador Richard Schifter, at a meeting of the committee here Friday.

Referring to the Commission’s earlier discussion of “the phenomenon of discrimination and deprivation of rights on grounds of ancestry practiced in South Africa,” the U.S. envoy declared that “similar practices can be identified in the Soviet Union” where “discrimination and persecution is based solely on ancestry and has been on the increase … In fact, 1984 has been one of the worst years in recent memory,” he said.

Schifter added, “Singled out for such discrimination and persecution are the Soviet Union’s Jews and it is because the Soviet media reflects the government’s point of view that the increase in anti-Semitic propaganda is of serious concern. Soviet anti-Semitism has been offered to the public under the label of anti-Zionism, ” he charged.

PERSECUTION INCREASES DESIRE TO LEAVE

Schifter emphasized in his remarks that discrimination in the Soviet Union was applied to persons not because of their attitude or political beliefs, but solely because of their ancestry.

“Many of the people who today are victims of this kind of persecution and discrimination are the descendants of persons who helped create the Soviet Union or enthusiastically supported it. It is not surprising that the enthusiasm of the third generation is greatly diminished,” he said, noting that the campaign of threats, intimidation, beatings and imprisonment increases the bitterness and the number of Jews eager to leave the USSR is once again growing.

Schifter added: “It is difficult to understand what the Soviet government seeks to achieve by the policy it is now following. Its decisions are normally the result of reasoning rather than being based in emotion. In this case, what is the result to be achieved? If the intention is to drive the Jews out of the country, why not let them emigrate? If the goal is to show certain foreign countries such as the United States that tense foreign countries such as the United States that tense foreign relations will result in Jews being victimized, the result is the opposite of what is intended. Any set of violations of human rights by the Soviet Union serves only to aggravate international tension.”

USSR PRACTICES STRONGLY QUESTIONED

The Soviet Union came under intense questioning and criticism of its treatment of Jews in the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination currently meeting at UN headquarters in New York. Both the Soviet and Ukrainian representatives were pressed to explain the restrictions imposed, not only on Jewish emigration from the USSR but on the study of Hebrew.

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