WASHINGTON (Sep. 10)
Jews and non-Jews throughout the world will be asked to participate in a “Day of Solidarity” in support of Soviet Jewry November 19, the eve of the summit meeting in Geneva between President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
This was announced today by Leon Dulzin, chairman of the World Conference on Soviet Jewry at a press conference following the two-day meeting of the International Council of the World Conference on Soviet Jewry. He said the day is to be an “expression of our voices as powerfully” as possible.
Gerald Kraft, president of B’nai B’rith International, said that events would include prayers in synagogues, all-night vigils, moments of silence in legislatures and other government bodies, and other demonstrations. Kraft said the Geneva summit “opens a window of opportunity the like of which may never come again.”
Dulzin said the executive of the World Conference will meet in Paris October 2 when Gorbachev is scheduled to meet with French President Francois Mitterrand and in Geneva for the Reagan-Gorbachev summit.
He said that since its creation four years ago, the World Conference has not succeeded in bringing about renewed large-scale Jewish emigration from the USSR. But Dulzin added, “We came out stronger, more united, more decisive in continuing our struggle.” Morris Abram, chairman of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry, noted, “I have never seen the Jewish community so united on a single issue as it is now.” The two-day meeting, attended by representatives from 24 countries at the headquarters of B’nai B’rith International here, concluded yesterday with a declaration that “as the world looks forward in hope to the summit meetings in Paris and Geneva, the World Conference delegates draw the attention of the world to the fact that if the plight of Soviet Jewry is indicative of Soviet credibility and the value of the solemn word of the USSR, then the summit begins under a heavy cloud. For humanity’s prayers and expectations from the summit meetings to be realized, that cloud must be removed.”
The delegates pledged to Soviet Jews “that we shall never relent in our efforts until they are free,” and stressed that “the USSR’s treatment of its Jews will come to be the test of Soviet sincerity in all its international relations.”
A delegation of seven Jewish leaders from five continents led by Abram made that point to Reagan when they met with the President at the White House yesterday. Abram reiterated today that the President pledged to bring up the issue at the summit. He added that the President “very wisely left it to his own sense of statesmanship exactly the form and substance to which he will address the problem; but address it there is not any doubt.”
WILL NOT SOFT PEDAL HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUES
Dulzin said that Claude Kelman, chairman of the Council for Soviet Jewry in France, told Reagan he plans to meet with Mitterrand to ask the French President to raise the issue of Soviet Jewry with Gorbachev.
Arieh Handler, chairman of the National Council for Soviet Jewry in Britain, said that Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher gave him a written statement to bring to the Washington meeting in which she said that in seeking to improve British and Western relations with the USSR, “we have not and will not softpedal questions of human rights.” A copy of the statement was also given to Reagan by the Jewish leaders yesterday.
STATEMENT BY ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL
At a dinner at the Capital-Hilton Hotel last night, which concluded the International Council’s two-day meeting, Michael Armacost, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, reiterated the position made continuously by the Jewish delegates.
Soviet violations of the “obligations” it undertook under the 1975 Helsinki Accords, “cannot but affect perceptions of Soviet willingness to abide by other accords and erode political confidence needed to make progress on a variety of issues,” he said.
“It is our hope that Soviet authorities are coming to recognize that human rights will remain central to the United States-Soviet agenda,” Armacost said.
“We are not asking Soviet authorities to do the impossible — but only to live up to their international obligations, and loosen the screws of repression tightened so cruelly in recent years. We watch the patterns of Soviet-Jewish emigration, as you do. We are prepared to respond as improvements occur.”
Armacost noted that “Soviet officials hint that improvements in human rights, including Jewish emigration, can follow an upward swing in overall relations. But he stressed “the reality is that Soviet abuses of human rights undermine the political confidence needed to improve relations, negotiate arms control agreements, and cooperatively lessen regional tensions.” Dulzin, who is also chairman of the Jewish Agency and World Zionist Organization Executives, stressed today that Jews live both in the East and the West and, “by nature, we are interested in peace and cooperation and good relationships.” But this must be based on cooperation between the two superpowers and cannot be a “solo dance.”