Menu JTA Search

Solon Says Congress and U.S. Jews Must Support Administration if It Decides on Jackson-vanik Waiver

Congress and the Jewish community must assure the Reagan Administration of support if the Administration decides on a one-year waiver of the Jackson-Vanik Amendment because it feels that the Soviet Union will allow “substantial emigration,” Sen. Carl Levin (D. Mich.) urged last week.

“If they reach the conclusion that substantial emigration will be sustained,” Administration officials must be assured they “will find support, not opposition,” Levin told a Capitol Hill luncheon concluding an all-day briefing for the new National Advisory Council of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry (NCSJ).

He stressed that if the Administration is expected to take “political risks” and raise the issue of Soviet Jewry at the highest levels of the Kremlin, then they must be assured of support and not “disunity and discord.”

Levin said that neither Secretary of State George Shultz in his meetings in Moscow next week nor President Reagan in his expected forthcoming summit with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev should be expected to return with a written agreement on Soviet emigration.

He said if they come to the belief that emigration will be increased it will be a “personal conclusion” based on Soviet deeds and words and perhaps even “body language or silence.”

Levin said he believed an opportunity may have been lost in 1979, the peak year for Jewish emigration, when the Carter Administration decided against a one-year waiver of the Jackson-Vanik Amendment because it feared the political repercussions.

The Amendment which links U.S. trade credits with increased emigration “is not just a symbol that we care, it is the creation of leverage that we can create something, that we can move something,” Levin said.

He said that there were two “pluses” working now for the cause of Soviet Jewry. One is there is “new leadership in the Soviet Union which at least seems to be wanting to do something different,” he said. He said the other was the agreement by Western leaders to raise the issue of Soviet Jewry with the Soviet government.

Morris Abram, NCSJ’s chairman, agreed with Levin, urging a united Jewish community “without turf battles, without strife.” He said the Administration and Congress must be assured that “if they take political risks, they will find resounding support in the Jewish community.”