NEW YORK (Jun. 22)
In recent testimony before the House subcommittee on trade, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations said it “continues to support” most-favored-nation status for Rumania under the waiver provision of the Jackson Vanik Amendment.
Alfred Moses, a vice president of the American Jewish Committee, presented the testimony in behalf of Conference chairman, Kenneth Bialkin, who was in Israel. Noting that he had conferred with Rumanian President Nicolae Ceausescu in 1980 and again last February on religious freedom and emigration rights, Moses told the House subcommittee:
“Progress has been made since our meeting with President Ceausecu in 1980. Emigration procedures have been simplified, the waiting period for persons seeking passports to emigrate has been reduced and the backlog of applicants seeking passports to emigrate to Israel has decreased. As a result, over the last six years roughly 25 percent of the Rumanian Jewish community has left for Israel.”
URGES CONTINUED MFN STATUS
For these reasons, he said, and despite “short-comings in Rumania’s human rights policy and the burdens Rumania continues to place on persons seeking to emigrate,” the Presidents Conference favors granting a waiver under the Jackson-Vanik Amendment permitting Rumania to continue to enjoy most-favored-nation-status in its trade relations with the U.S.
Moses also noted that the number of permissions to emigrate is “down considerably this year,” adding: “This troubles us. We communicated these concerns last week to the Rumanian government through its ambassador in Washington and have received assurances that the numbers for June and the rest of the year will show an increase. We also let the ambassador know how important it is that the Rumanian synagogues in Bucharest … not be bulldozed to make room for Bucharest’s urban renewal.”
Moses testified that there are no restrictions against the free exercise of Jewish religious life in Rumania, that a number of important synagogues have been restored under the leadership of Chief Rabbi Moses Rosen and that the Federation of Jewish Communities “maintains and extensive support system throughout Rumania for the remaining, largely elderly, Jewish communities,” including kosher kitchens, old age homes, and ritual baths. There is also religious instruction for children, he said.
Moreover, he added, “outcroppings of anti-Semitism that appeared in the government-controlled press a few years ago have not reappeared.” The Presidents Conference representative, speaking in the name of the 40 constituent members of the Conference, concluded “Admittedly the record is not all one-sided, but the alternative to extending most favored-nation status is to snuff out the best means at our disposal to influence conditions in that country for the better.”