OTTAWA (May. 16)
The chief U.S. delegate to a major international conference to review compliance with the human rights sections of the Helsinki Final Act, Richard Schifter, has indicated he will raise the issue of the Soviet Union’s treatment of its Jewish minority.
Jewish leaders from the United States, Europe, Israel, Australia as well as Canada have been in Ottawa to urge Western delegates to the six-week Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) meeting of human rights experts to put the plight of Soviet Jewry high on the agenda.
Human rights experts from the 35 signatory countries to the 1975 Helsinki Final Act are at the conference which is scheduled to conclude June 17. All European countries (excluding Albania and Andorra), the Soviet Union, U.S. and Canada signed the Helsinki accords which comprises three sections, or “baskets,” one of which deals with human rights.
This is the first CSCE conference devoted exclusively to the human rights sections. Earlier review conferences have been held in Belgrade, Yugoslavia and Madrid, Spain.
Among the Jewish leaders who have come to Ottawa to meet with Western delegates are: Kenneth Bialkin, chairman, Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations; Israel Singer, secretary-general, WJCongress; Jacqueline Levine, chairman of the advisory board of the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council; Howard Friedman, president of the American Jewish Committee; Stephen Roth, of London, chairman of the Helsinki Monitoring Committee of the World Conference on Soviet Jewry; Zalman Abramov of Israel, co-chairman of World Jewish Congress, Israel Section; Claude Kelman of France, co-chairman of the European Conference on Soviet Jewry; and Isi Liebler, president of the Australian Jewish community and member of the International Council of the World Conference on Soviet Jewry.
CONFIDENT THE ISSUE WILL BE RAISED FORCEFULLY
At a press conference, Roth, who is also chairman of the Institute of Jewish Affairs in London, expressed confidence delegates from Western countries to the conference would raise the issue of Soviet Jewry “very forcefully.”
These and other spokesmen for the Soviet Jewry issue will be in Ottawa periodically throughout the conference. The Canadian Committee for Soviet Jewry has non-governmental status at the conference.
However, at the demand of the Soviet bloc, the business sessions of the conference will be closed. Delegates are spending three weeks reviewing compliance with the accords and three weeks on recommendations and conclusions.
STATEMENT FROM DULZIN
At the press conference held by the World Conference on Soviet Jewry (WCSJ), Abramov read a statement from Leon Dulzin, chairman of the World Zionist Organization and of the International Council of the WCSJ, which called upon the representatives of the Western countries assembled in Ottawa to “demonstrate their readiness to act on behalf of the Jews of the Soviet Union … (who) are persecuted for their aspiration to emigrate to Israel, for their desire to live as Jews and for their efforts to study their language and culture.”
Dulzin noted that there has been “almost total cessation” of Jewish emigration from the Soviet Union. Fewer than 1,000 Jews left in 1984.
“This drastic decline is not due, as Soviet sources claim, to the absence of requests from Jews for permission to leave, but is the result of an arbitrary halting of the granting of exit permits by the Soviet authorities.”
The WCSJ is also distressed by the persecution of Jews who attempt to spread Jewish education and by the arrests of those who claim their right to emigrate. “Extreme alarm” was also expressed at the “scurrilous anti-Semitic campaign, camouflaged as anti-Zionism” being waged in the Soviet media. Particular outrage was voiced at the “outrageous and obscene” attempts to show collaboration between Zionists and Nazi Germany.”