LONDON (Jul. 15)
Condemning the Government of the Soviet Union for pursuing a policy which use a the Jews as a scapegoat, Sir Barnett Janner, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, appealed to the USSR today to mitigate the severe sentences recently meted out against Russian Jews accused of “economic crimes, and to conduct a campaign of “enlightenment against anti-Semitism” in the USSR.
Sir Barnett made his statement in addressing a meeting of the Board of Deputies. He pointed out that, in the last year, 28 of the 46 death sentences passed in the USSR against persons convicted of “economic and currency” offenses had been decreed against Jews, Declaring that “in no other country would such savage penalties be imposed for such crimes in peacetime, ” he stated:
“This figure represents an inexplicably high proportion of the total, even after making full allowance for the fact that Jews are largely city dwellers.” Additionally, he noted, “the accounts of the court hearings, often conducted as show trials, reveal a distinct, anti-Jewish bias.”
“Taken in conjunction with other anti-Jewish manifestations,” Sir Barnett declared, “such as the outrages on synagogues in remote districts and, above all, the continued refusal of the Soviet authorities to grant the Jewish community reasonable facilities to pursue its cultural and religious life as a recognized nationality in the USSR, there is a growing conviction that the traditional line of finding in the Jew a scapegoat for economic and other ills is being pursued in the USSR.”
Pointing out that Jews in many countries have, from time to time, protested against these death sentences and their execution, the British Jewish leader continued: “We again appeal with all earnestness to the Soviet authorities to mitigate the severity of these sentences, having regard to the offenses for which they were inflicted; to conduct a campaign of enlightenment against anti-Semitism; and, in other ways, to allay the apprehensions which are widely felt regarding the position of the Jewish community in the USSR.”