WASHINGTON (Feb. 1)
A delegation of eight Jewish leaders met here Thursday with Deputy Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger to express concern over the increase in anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union.
The State Department meeting took place as Secretary of State James Baker prepared to depart for two days of meetings in Moscow next week with Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze.
Shoshana Cardin, chairwoman of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry, said Eagleburger told the delegation that the Bush administration was surprised by the rapid growth of anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union.
The Jewish leader said Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev should be urged to make a public statement condemning anti-Semitism similar to the one President Bush made in his State of the Union address Wednesday night, Cardin said.
She said the delegation expressed its appreciation for Bush’s remarks.
“Everyone one of us must confront and condemn racism, anti-Semitism, bigotry and hate,” the president said in his nationally televised address. “Not next week, not tomorrow, but right now. Every single one of us.”
Cardin said that a letter was presented for Baker, asking him to urge Gorbachev to sign documents allowing direct flights between Moscow and Israel.
She said that regularly scheduled flights out of the Soviet Union to Western Europe are booked solidly through January 1991.
The matter is especially urgent, Cardin said, because of the growing fear among Soviet Jews about the potential for anti-Semitic violence.
She said that, as has been the case before every major U.S.-Soviet meeting, the National Conference presented a list of longtime refuseniks, which it hoped Baker would take up with Shevardnadze.
It includes 138 persons denied exit visas because of their alleged access to state secrets, 100 refused because of financial obligations to “poor relatives” and about 58 others refused for arbitrary reasons.
Eagleburger raised the issue of settling Soviet Jewish immigrants to Israel in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, a practice the State Department this week said would be an “obstacle to peace.”
But Cardin said that Eagleburger acknowledged that so far, only 1 percent of Soviet Jews immigrating to Israel have gone to the West Bank. Most of the immigrants prefer urban centers, she said.
Also participating in the meeting were Seymour Reich, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and president of B’nai B’rith International; David Harris, Washington representative of the American Jewish Committee; Jess Hordes, director of the Washington office of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith; Albert Chernin, executive vice chairman of the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council; Constance Smukler, NCSJ vice chairwoman; Martin Wenick, NCSJ executive director; and Mark Levin, NCSJ associate executive director.