TEL AVIV (Jan. 17)
Dr. Nahum Goldmann said here today that the world convention of Communist parties next March will be decisive for the situation of Jews in the Soviet Union. According to Dr. Goldmann, who arrived here last night for a two-week visit, the Communist parties of the western world influenced Soviet authorities on the side of leniency in the Leningrad trial, manifested by the commutation of the two death sentences to prison terms and the reduction of several other sentences. Dr. Goldmann said that during the three months since he was last in Israel he met with a number of prominent Russians, but he named only one of them, the Soviet Ambassador to Washington, Anatoly F. Dobrynin. He said he talked to Dobrynin before the Leningrad trial last month. He said he would report on his various talks abroad to Premier Golda Meir, Finance Minister Pinhas Sapir and other Cabinet officers. Dr. Goldmann referred to the harassing tactics of the Jewish Defense League in the United States as a “catastrophe,” and noted “their intentions are good but their deeds cause unimaginable harm.” The tactics of the JDL appear to have divided Jewish opinion in the Soviet Union according to various reports received here recently. A majority of Soviet Jews are neither actively trying to emigrate nor are they protesting JDL acts in letters to the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. But they fear the JDL tactics will give Soviet authorities an excuse for anti-Semitic activities.
They are apprehensive that the bombings of Soviet premises in the U.S. and the harassment of Soviet personnel will be linked by Russian authorities directly to Soviet Jews who are openly demanding emigration rights and have already been branded as “traitorous,” This could affect the outcome of the new trials of Jews which are expected to open next month in Leningrad, Riga and Kishinev, the reports said. A further concern of Russian Jews is that the anti-Soviet tactics abroad will obscure the legitimate grievances of Jews in the USSR and will harden the Kremlin leaders against the pressure for leniency that seemed to persuade them to commute the two death sentences last month. But other Soviet Jews, mainly those who have committed themselves to an all out struggle for emigration rights, seem to approve of the JDL. They believe that the Soviets respect only force and insist that anti-Semitism is native to the Soviet Union and cannot be made any worse by the JDL tactics. (In New York two JDL leaders and a third man were indicted Friday by a Federal Grand Jury for using fictitious names to buy three rifles. Under indictment are Sandor Sternberg, 20, a Brooklyn College student; David Sommer, 32, a Queens high school teacher; and Aaron Blumenthal, 22, a Philadelphia resident believed to be in Israel. According to U.S. Attorney Whitney North Seymour, Jr., the defendants are charged with violating the Federal Firearms Control Law. Federal authorities described Sternberg as “director of defense” of the JDL and its chief karate instructor. Sommer was described as a member of the JDL’s national board and editor of its newsletter, “Never Again.” Rabbi Meir Kahane, national chairman of the JDL, said this weekend that he would go to Washington tomorrow in an effort to meet with Secretary of State William P. Rogers On Tuesday Rabbi Kahane is scheduled for arraignment on charges of disorderly conduct.)