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400 Jewish Leaders Going to Capital to Confer with Officials About Leningrad 11

December 30, 1970
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Protests by American Jewry against the arrests of Soviet Jews and this month’s trial and sentencing of nine of them will peak here tomorrow when 400 Jewish leaders converge on the State Department, Capitol Hill, the Department of Justice, several foreign embassies and perhaps the White House. The “National Emergency Conference on Soviet Jewry” is being coordinated by the American Jewish Conference on Soviet Jewry and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. They will seek American and foreign commitments to work for the repeal of the two death sentences and nine prison terms meted out to Soviet Jews and non-Jews accused of an attempted plane hijacking. The Jewish leaders will be addressed in plenary session by former ambassador Arthur J. Goldberg, labor leader George Meany, playwright Arthur Miller, civil rights activist Bayard Rostin, political scientist Hans J. Morgenthau, Dr. John Brooke Mosely Jr., president of the Union Theological Seminary and others.

It was observed here that in its adherence to its oft-proclaimed preference for “quiet diplomacy” in delicate international matters, the United States has in this sizzling issue indicated its efforts only after other countries had publicly declared theirs–and then only vaguely and reluctantly. State Department spokesman Robert J. McCloskey would say yesterday only that “In light of the severity of the sentences handed down at the trial, this matter has received serious consideration in Washington,” and that “We have taken steps which we hope will be helpful.” In addition to Britain, France and the Vatican, public protests have been made by West Germany, Denmark, Norway, Australia and the Archbishop of Canterbury. Rep. Joseph G. Minish, the New Jersey Democrat who on Nov. 16 became the first Congressman to denounce the current Soviet trials, has collected 47 Congressional signatures on an appeal to Soviet Ambassador Anatoly F. Dobrynin that he “utilize the power of your office” to reverse last week’s sentences in Leningrad.”

“To penalize them by life imprisonment or death for their (emigration) activities would be a travesty of justice,” the appeal declared, noting that the case “hinges on the fact they wanted to leave the Soviet system” for Israel. The House-based petition was also signed by Democratic Sen. Harrison A. Williams Jr. of Rep. Minish’s state; New Jersey’s other Senator, Republican Clifford P. Case, said he preferred to endorse a similar petition being circulated in the upper house by Sen. Birch Bayh of Indiana. The signers of the Minish text include James H. Scheuer, Emanuel Celler, Allard K. Lowenstein, Bertram L. Podell and Mario Biaggi of New York; Joshua Eilberg of Pennsylvania; Abner J. Mikva of Illinois, and Mrs. Patsy T. Mink of Hawaii. Five Senators called yesterday for action by the Nixon administration. They were Birch Bayh of Indiana, Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts and Abraham A. Ribicoff of Connecticut, Democrats, and Jacob K. Javits of New York and Robert Dole of Kansas, Republicans. Bayh noted that other countries had already made public statements.

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