Reagan Urged to Press Soviet Jewry Issue at Summit Meeting

The mayors of 101 cities across the United States have signed a letter, transmitted today to President Reagan, urging that the President “hold the Soviets to their commitments on the human rights of Soviet Jews” during his summit conference with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in Geneva next week.

The letter was presented to the White House by New Orleans Mayor Ernest Morial, president of the United States Conference of Mayors. “This letter is being sent on the eve of the Geneva summit so that President Reagan will be able to show the Soviet leadership that Americans throughout the United States care about the declining number of Soviet Jews who are being permitted to emigrate and the increased number of Hebrew teachers who have been arrested this year.” In the letter, the mayors recalled that Gorbachev told a Paris news conference in October that Soviet citizens who know “state secrets” have to wait only “five to ten years” to leave. But the mayors countered in their letter that “thousands of Soviet Jews waited that requisite term and are still waiting.” Such actions, the letter said, raised questions about the USSR’s credibility regarding international commitments.

Jacqueline Levine, chairperson of the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council, which conducted the campaign to solicit the mayor’s support for the letter, affirmed her confidence that the President would raise the Soviet Jewry issue with Gorbachev in Geneva. Last month, only 124 Jews were permitted to leave the Soviet Union.

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