NEW YORK (Feb. 6)
Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze has promised his government will protect its Jewish citizens against anti-Semitic violence, according to a member of the New York City Council who says he met with the Kremlin official last week.
The Soviet government “will not tolerate pogroms” against Jews, Shevardnadze is said to have told City Councilman Noach Dear of Brooklyn during a private meeting at the Foreign Ministry in Moscow on Jan. 31.
“We will do everything in our power to protect the Jewish community,” Dear quoted the foreign minister as saying.
Shevardnadze’s remarks appear to be the highest-level government response so far to the series of anti-Semitic threats that have triggered panic among Jews in the Soviet Union.
Dear said Shevardnadze gave him his word that the Soviet government would apply existing legislation to protect Jews.
“There arc laws on the books presently to punish people who express these type of threats, and we will use these laws,” the councilman quoted him as saying.
The foreign minister’s remarks were made through an interpreter, said Dear. He said the meeting had been arranged by the Foreign Ministry.
“They thought it was appropriate for me to meet with him on the issue” of anti-Semitism, said Dear.
He said he was accompanied at the meeting by a New York philanthropist, Samuel Domb, who traveled on to Warsaw and London, and therefore was unavailable for comment.
RABBI DELUGED WITH PHONE CALLS
Dear said he met Jan. 30 with Rabbi Adolph Shayevitch of Moscow’s Choral Synagogue, whom he found “almost crying” over the “hundreds of phone calls” he gets every day from frightened people.
Dear said he also discussed with Shevardnadze the status of individual refuseniks, people who have been denied permission to emigrate. Among those he raised were the cases of Vladimir Raiz and Vladimir Dashevsky.
He was told Dashevsky’s case would be resolved by emigration reforms that the Supreme Soviet is expected to enact soon. He said Raiz’s case would be resolved, too.
Dear said Dashevsky and other Jewish activists recently received phone calls warning them to stop their Hebrew teaching and Jewish activities.
Dashcvsky, who expects to visit New York on a tourist visa next month, cannot emigrate because of an in-law’s refusal to sign a waiver of financial responsibility.
Raiz has not visited the United States, but his wife, Karmela, is now here on a tourist visa. She told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency last month that Soviet authorities had gone on the air in August in the city of Gomel to warn Jews to remain home to avert a threatened pogrom.
An official action against anti-Semitism was taken last week in another city, but Jewish activists criticized the fact that such an announcement was only made by the Communist Party of Odessa, which has remained largely free of the spate of threats made recently in many other cities.
The Odessa Communist Party Committee reportedly organized a special commission against anti-Semitism, a move reported on the television news and by the Communist Party daily newspaper Pravda.
Refuseniks have told Soviet Jewry activists in the United States that the Soviet press has begun a “big campaign against anti-Semitism,” publishing “a lot of articles” about “Jewish people, Jewish scientists, about some people who emigrated to the United States and now create an economic bridge between the Soviet Union and America.”
Dear is a chairman of the Joint Committee to Preserve Soviet Jewish Heritage, which is made up of American Jewish investors in the Soviet Union.