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U.S. Non-jews Appeal to Soviet Leader to Lift Ban on Jewish Culture

July 3, 1959
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Three prominent American non-Jews today addressed themselves through the press here to Soviet Deputy Premier Frol Kozlov who is now visiting the United States, bringing to his attention facts on the suppression of Jewish culture and anti-Jewish bias in government institutions in the Soviet Union, and asking him to do something about “the painful effect of these facts.”

The three are Dr. Donald Harrington of the New York Community Church; Dr. John Haynes Holmes, Minister Emeritus of the same church; and Norman Thomas, prominent American Socialist leader. In a letter made public in the New York Times today, the three American non-Jewish personalities stressed that they “feel justified” in pointing out to Mr. Kozlov “the well-documented record of anti-Jewish discrimination in the USSR which profoundly troubles American lovers of peace with justice.”

“In our criticism, ” they emphasized in their appeal to Mr. Kozlov, “we do not refer to the “black years” of militant anti-Semitism, 1948-53, or to the ‘thaw,’ 1954-56, named for Ehrenburg’s novel of that title. We refer to the present apparent retreat toward a less cruel and more subtle form of anti-Semitism than in the Czar’s time of Stalin’s but one seriously injurious to human rights. This has been the subject of a dispassionate, well-documented study in Soviet Survey (August, 1957), published by the Congress for Cultural Freedom. That study has been brought up to date by American students of the situation. We cannot give the evidence in detail. We can summarize it thus:

“An official delegation of the British Communist party, on its return from the Soviet Union, reported on Jan. 12, 1957, “that many Soviet intellectuals must themselves be puzzled and confused, and indeed ashamed of it (the suppression of Jewish culture), seems clear from a uniform attitude adopted everywhere, when this question was raised.” The situation, the report stated, reveals “a certain measure of indifference to human values, which does violence to those of us brought up in bourgeois capitalist society who have given our support to the Socialist cause. “


“Economic discrimination against Jews has long ago been implicitly conceded by Mr. Khrushchev. In a meeting with French Socialist delegates on May 12, 1956, he said, “Should the Jews want to occupy the foremost positions in our republic now, it would–naturally–be taken amiss by the indigenous inhabitants. “

“Jews have virtually disappeared from the diplomatic service of the USSR. They are being squeezed out from high posts in the army. There are, today, only three Jews left in both houses of the Supreme Soviet, a mere . 25 percent, compared with 4.10 percent in 1937. Yet Jews constitute today about 1. 4 percent of the population of the Soviet Union. Jews find it extremely difficult to be received in the institutions of higher learning, except in the faculties of the humanities.

“The Jews are the only religious group in the USSR not permitted to have a central religious body and probably the only group whose writers are not permitted to publish their works in the original languages, Yiddish and Hebrew. The Soviet newspapers have been publishing feuilletons consistently singling out Jewish-named individuals for castigation. Under these circumstances the designation “Jewish nationality” on identity papers of Soviet Jews is not a privilege, but a singling out of one group for discrimination.

“The documents on which this summary is based effectually prove that the attempt to deny Jews the status of other recognized national groups is not due to their absorption into the various other national groups in the Soviet Union. Yet whereas as late as 1955 an official tabulation listed 24,620 Jews among the scientific workers, the very recent publication “The Achievements of the Soviet Regime” finds no place at all for classifying Jews.

“Surely we are not to believe that Jews have left the scientific field or have been liquidated! Our distinguished visitor, Mr. Kozlov, must certainly recognize the painful effect of these facts, ” the appeal to Mr. Kozlov concludes.

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