Soviet Jewry Group Demands That the Aba Cancel Its Agreement with the Association of Soviet Lawyers

The Union of Councils for Soviet Jews (USCJ) demanded Wednesday that a committee of the American Bar Association publicly recommend that the ABA cancel its formal agreement of cooperation with the Association of Soviet Lawyers (ASL).

“The ASL is the most prominent official sponsor and publisher of anti-Semitic material in the Soviet Union,” Pamela Cohen, the UCSJ’s president, said. She note that unlike the members of the ABA, the ASL lawyers “work only for the State, not for their clients.

“For the ABA to maintain this official recognition is to accord them (ASL) a professional dignity that is not only undeserved, but an obscene insult to all Jews, dissidents and Prisoners of Conscience who live under the yoke of Soviet oppression.”

Cohen’s demand was aimed at the Committee on Law and Security which, along with other ABA committees, is meeting here this week. The committee reportedly voted in private earlier this year to recommend that the ABA abrogate the agreement, but has never made this public, according to John Rosenberg, the UCSJ’s spokesman.

The UCSJ and other Jewish groups have urged that the ABA end the arrangement since it was first agreed upon in 1985. At its annual meeting last year, the ABA rejected a resolution to terminate the agreement, but said it would be reviewed to see if the Soviet Union had approved its human rights practices. The ABA’s board of governors is expected to review the agreement again in August.

Cohen said that “during the past year or so this arrangement has permitted the ASL to bask in the warm glow of collegiality with the American legal profession, taking credit for it on Moscow television to the dismay of accused Hebrew teachers, who needed representation; denying vicious human rights violations . . . and asserting unfounded human rights progress at the Helsinki meetings in Vienna.”

In 1985, the ASL, in cooperation with the Soviet anti-Zionist Committee, published a “major anti-Semitic tract, ‘The White Book,’ a disinformation effort comparable to Nazi propaganda,” Cohen said.

“Meanwhile, the Soviets boast of 1,800 American lawyers visiting in 1986, and the ABA will reciprocate by hosting an ASL delegation to the National Association of Attorney Generals in June,” Cohen said.

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