Soviet Jewry Groups Divided over Nobel Prize to Gorbachev

The two major Soviet Jewry advocacy groups in the United States are in sharp disagreement over the awarding of the 1990 Nobel Peace Prize to Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.

The National Conference on Soviet Jewry welcomed the news Monday and cabled congratulations to Gorbachev. It told the Soviet leader he had “set into motion processes that have produced fundamental changes” in your country.”

Likewise in Ottawa, B’nai Brith Canada wrote a letter to Soviet Ambassador Alexi Rodionov, saying it is “with great pleasure that we write to extend congratulations” to Gorbachev, who the group said had “bravely championed” momentous changes in the Soviet Union.

But Pamela Cohen, president of the Union of Councils of Soviet Jews, said Gorbachev has not “carved out a moral and ethical platform.”

Gorbachev, who Cohen called a “clever politician,” has yet to demonstrate that he is “fundamentally committed to instituting the rule of law,” she said.

Also on Monday, an eight-member delegation of leaders from the National Conference met briefly with Vice President Dan Quayle to discuss the United Jewish Appeal’s Operation Exodus campaign for resettling Soviet Jews in Israel.

Quayle had attended an NCSJ seder here in the spring to help kick off the campaign. Shoshana Cardin, the group’s chairwoman, said the delegation discussed “the goal that was initiated and the fact that we are achieving that goal.”

For his part, Quayle “wished us well and offered his continuing support,” she said.

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