NEW YORK (Apr. 5)
Morris Abram, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and the National Conference on Soviet Jewry, and Edgar Bronfman, president of the World Jewish Congress, issued a joint statement Friday in response to criticism of their visit to the Soviet Union last month.
The statement said:
“All of the Jewish organizations in the United States dealing with the issue of Soviet Jewry are members of either the National Conference on Soviet Jewry or the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. It was the elected leader of the NCSJ and the Presidents Conference who, with the President of the World Jewish Congress, representing 70 Jewish communities around the world, undertook a visit to the USSR, ensuring a delegation representing the most wide-ranging cross-section of U.S. and world Jewry.
“On April 1, a debriefing was attended by nearly 150 Jewish leaders representing more than 60 member agencies of the NCSJ and the Presidents Conference, together with leadership of the World Jewish Congress. We are therefore surprised that some of the critics of this procedure did not voice all of their objections in the presence of their peers at the debriefing, but chose to discuss issues of internal concern with the media.
“The internecine squabbles waged in the media are at a minimum, unseemly. More importantly, they can be harmful to the security of those Soviet Jews whose lives are at stake. Such battles are confusing to political decision-makers in Washington and Moscow, who may erroneously believe that the Jewish community is so racked by dissension that it will not be able to deliver on commitments made in good faith. They offer those in the USSR who oppose a positive resolution of the fate of the 11,000-12,000 refuseniks, and the hundreds of thousands of others who seek to emigrate, a weapon with which to inhibit a true and comprehensive solution to the plight of Soviet Jewry.”