NEW YORK (Feb. 4)
A new sense of urgency should be attached to the mobilization against Soviet regulations that make it difficult for Soviet Jews without first-degree relatives abroad to obtain permission to emigrate, a world Soviet Jewry group resolved this week.
The executive committee of the International Council for Soviet Jewry adopted that position during meetings here on Sunday and Monday.
The committee, which meets annually in New York to review policy, is chaired by Simcha Dinitz, who was recently elected chairman of the World Zionist Organization-Jewish Agency Executive. A meeting of the full council took place last fall.
The committee noted several positive changes in conditions for Soviet Jews that took place in 1987, including the emigration of more than 8,000 Jews, the release of the last Jewish prisoner of conscience and an end to the harassment of Hebrew teachers.
However, the committee noted the “alarming” restrictive emigration policy that seems to be increasingly implemented.
The executive committee said it had received reports that in recent weeks, applications for emigration not supported by affidavits from relatives of first-degree relationship were not accepted for processing by Soviet authorities.
Moreover, the committee noted that exit visas continue to be denied to long-time refuseniks for “spurious reasons of access to questionably secret information many years previously.”
Some refuseniks, the committee reports, have been told that although state security reasons are no longer valid in their cases, they have been nevertheless denied exit visas because they have no first-degree relatives in Israel. Others are refused permission because of relatives’ unwillingness to sign waivers of financial obligation.
The committee also noted “with concern” the open functioning of anti-Semitic organizations such as Pamyat, which has become popular among strongly nationalistic Soviet youth.
With respect to the teaching of Hebrew and Jewish religion and culture, the committee noted that only in one city so far has the private teaching of Hebrew been approved. In addition, efforts to register Jewish cultural groups in several cities have been rebuffed.