World Jewish Conference in Geneva Assails Soviet Policy on Jews in USSR
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World Jewish Conference in Geneva Assails Soviet Policy on Jews in USSR

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An appeal to world public opinion for continued “moral pressure” on the Soviet Government to have religious and cultural rights restored to Soviet Jewry was issued here last night by the Conference of Jewish Organizations, the coordinating body of major Jewish groups active in various countries.

A statement issued by COJO, following the conclusion of a two-day conference here, expressed “deep concern” over the lack of any “fundamental change” in the Soviet stand toward the Jews in the USSR. The statement condemned “the process of enforced assimilation” of the Jews in the Soviet Union, and said that this process threatened “to erode” the second largest Jewish community in the world.

Participants in the COJO conference included the World Jewish Congress, B’nai B’rith, American Jewish Congress, Canadian Jewish Congress, the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Conseil Representatif des Juifs de France, DAIA, the central representative body of Argentine Jews, the executive council of Australian Jewry, the Jewish Labor Committee and the South African Jewish Board of Deputies. Official observers included the Jewish Agency for Israel, the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, the Rabbinical Council of America, and Young Israel.


The delegates expressed appreciation for the “growing understanding” in the non-Jewish community for the plight of Soviet Jews. They appealed to the Soviet Union, on “humanitarian grounds,” to facilitate the reunification of families “separated by the ravages of war and the era of Nazi persecution.”

Dr. Nahum Goldmann, president of the World Jewish Congress, and COJO chairman, expressed the hope that the “liberal and progressive elements and forces with friendly ties to the Soviet Union will bring even more of their influence to bear” in support of Soviet Jews.

He reported he had concluded negotiations with the Polish Government for inclusion of a Jewish pavilion in the memorial planned on the site of the Auschwitz death camp, one of a complex of pavilions memorializing victims of various nationalities murdered in Auschwitz. He said he had conveyed “appreciation” to the Polish Government for its efforts to keep alive the memory of the martyrs of the Nazi era.

The delegates voted endorsement of the memorial, and urged Jewish groups to “participate actively” in plans to make the Jewish pavilion “a fitting monument to Jewish martyrdom.” The memorial, to be built out of a converted Auschwitz barrack, will be in the form of a museum.

The conference also endorsed unanimously plans to mark the 20th anniversary of the liberation of Nazi concentration camps, and recommended that its constituent members take part in a commemorative program in Poland in May, 1965.


The conference held a comprehensive discussion on Catholic-Jewish relations in the light of the forthcoming statement on Jews by the Ecumenical Council, which resumes its session at the Vatican in September. The delegates also reviewed plans for the World Council on Jewish Education, which opens in Geneva today.

The delegates adopted a recommendation to set up a world-wide clearing house for research into and dissemination of information about Arab anti-Jewish propaganda activity, to be established in New York City and maintained by COJO for its constituent groups and for other Jewish organizations and communities.

A number of delegates reacted favorably to a proposal by Label A. Katz, president of B’nai B’rith and a COJO vice-chairman, that COJO constituents consider the advisability of convening national conferences in their countries to mobilize public opinion in protest against the deterioration of Soviet Jewish community life. Such conferences would be along the lines of the American Jewish Conference on Soviet Jewry held last April in Washington by 24 American Jewish organizations.

Yaacov Herzog, Deputy Director General of Israel’s Foreign Office, told the conference that anti-Israel political propaganda by Arab states, while “at present organized and implemented with greater sophistication than ever before,” is not deterring Israel’s progress and its diplomatic and trade relations. He said that Arab representatives at the recent Cairo conference on African Unity had “failed in their efforts to stimulate anti-Israel feelings.”

The diplomat, who was Israel’s Minister to the United States and then to Canada, said that despite “massive propaganda efforts,” carried on in about 60 countries, there had been little acceptance of Arab arguments against Israel’s national water carrier project which will tap the Jordan River to irrigate the country’s arid Negev region.

However, both he and delegates presenting reports on Arab League activities in their countries stressed that Arab propaganda went beyond political hostility to Israel to include “distinct anti-Semitic elements and links to neo-Nazi and reactionary movements.” The reports noted this had been particularly evident in several Latin American countries.

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