Jewish Delegates to Soviet Congress Asked to Investigate Anti-semitism
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Jewish Delegates to Soviet Congress Asked to Investigate Anti-semitism

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Five Jewish activists on Sunday presented to three of the 10 Jewish deputies to the newly elected Soviet Congress a document which calls for the creation of an independent commission to study the problem of anti-Semitism.

The text also called for the registration of all Jewish organizations, according to the National Conference on Soviet Jewry.

Their act was a follow-up to the convening last week of a conference of Jewish activists in Riga, an historic gathering that discussed and wrote into documents the problems Jews in the Soviet Union face.

Moreover, the document given to the deputies and others that were drawn up at the Riga conference were forwarded to Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.

This is the first time that the Soviet political leadership has received documents from Jewish activists requiring a formal response, reported Alexander Shmukler to the National Conference. He was the only refusenik among the presenters.

Among the requests made at the Riga conference was a call for specifically Jewish deputies to that body.

The delegates said, for instance, that representation from the Jewish Autonomous Region in Birobidjan is insufficient because only one-half of one percent of Soviet Jews live there.

Of major concern at the conference was the absence of full recognition of Jewish groups by the central Moscow government. Cultural centers and schools are accredited by local authorities.

The conference allotted considerable time to reports on aggressive anti-Semite activities by various local groups, including mention of the “Teetotalers Movement,” “Moldavian Karelians,” and “Zionology.”


A conference document states, “Anti-Semitism today has become a powerful factor, stimulating the growth of emigration.”

There was also a consensus of opinion against the United States waiving the Jackson-Vanik Amendment, which pegs most-favored-nation trade status on Jewish emigration, according to Kalman Sultanik, a vice president of the World Jewish Congress, who attended the conference.

Sultanik said he was asked to speak in Yiddish, without an interpreter. He said 90 percent of those assembled said they understood him.

Some 200 Jews came to the conference from 40 communities, including delegates from Krasnoyarsk, Sverdlovsk, Bobrisk, Vitebsk, Kazan, Chernobyl, Chernovitsky, Zaporozhye and Donetsk.

There were also Jewish delegates from the United States, Canada, France and Israel. Former refuseniks in Israel received visas, as well as hard-line American campaigners for Soviet Jews.

But others had problems. Samuel Norich, executive director of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in New York, received a visa too late.

His recent guest, Vilnius cultural leader Emmanuel Zinger, had his papers confiscated at Moscow airport on his return.

Also refused a visa was David Waksberg, vice president of the Union of Councils for Soviet Jews.

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