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Jewish Leaders to Meet with Kissinger; Topic is Soviet Jewry

May 2, 1973
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American-Jewish leaders are scheduled to meet with Dr. Henry Kissinger in Washington tonight to discuss the issue of Soviet Jews, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency learned today. The meeting with President Nixon’s national security advisor on the eve of his departure for Moscow is expected to deal with what further steps the White House might be able to take to help Russian Jews and what Kissinger himself may be able to do in Moscow.

The Jewish leaders are expected to give Kissinger a list of the names of the 42 Jewish “prisoners of conscience” presently serving sentences in prisons and labor camps in the USSR as well as the names of Soviet Jews who have applied for exit visas and have been turned down.

Dr. Kissinger will depart for Moscow on Thursday for a four day visit. According to the official announcement of his trip the matters he will discuss with Soviet leaders include U.S. Soviet trade, arms control, and plans for Communist Party chief Leonid Brezhnev’s visit to the U.S. this summer.

The meeting with Kissinger will take place against the background of new reports of harassment, repression of Jews in the Soviet Union, including the imposition of a 10-year prison sentence on Isaac Shkolnik, a Ukrainian Jew accused of spying for Israel, and reports from Moscow this week that 25 Jews who applied for exit visas for the first time have been denied them.

These and other reports add credence to the view expressed by Jewish activists in the USSR and Jews in this country that the Soviet regime continues to impose severe restrictions on Jewish emigration despite its claim to have suspended the education tax.


The JTA learned that American-Jewish leaders will tell Kissinger that they want to keep the door open to the White House and its “quiet diplomacy” approach to the Soviets on the issue of Russian Jews but will still press for the Jackson-Mills-Vanik amendments because more is at stake than the education tax.

Jewish leaders are reportedly disturbed by the paucity of information that has emerged since 15 Jewish leaders met with President Nixon at the White House April 19. A statement issued by the leaders who attended the meeting at the time said that Nixon had “reaffirmed his concern for the plight of Soviet Jews and pledged his continuing personal efforts on their behalf.”

Herman Weisman, president of the Zionist Organization of America, said in a statement issued today that the ZOA did not want any prolonged silence concerning the White House meeting “to be interpreted as a softening or qualification of its support for encouraging the actions planned by both houses of Congress on behalf of Soviet Jewry.”

Weisman was referring to the amendment of Sen. Henry M. Jackson (D. Wash.) and the identical measures introduced in the House by Reps. Wilbur Mills (D. Ark.) and Charles Vanik (D. Ohio) which have overwhelming support in both houses of Congress. Weisman reiterated the ZOA’s “full-fledged support” for the Jackson Amendment.


The New York Federation of Reformed Synagogues has also called for “unrelenting support for the Jackson-Vanik bill.” Five hundred delegates attending the Federation’s 31st annual conference here Sunday, urged Nixon to deny the Russians trade benefits until Soviet authorities have given Jews the right and opportunity to emigrate. The group also sent messages of support

The Union of Councils for Soviet Jewry urged Nixon in a telegram yesterday to withdraw his opposition to the Jackson-Mills-Vanik amendments and to “indicate America’s concern with human dignity” by supporting the measures. The telegram was signed by Harold B. Light, first vice-chairman of the San Francisco-based group.

Continued support for the amendments was also approved last night by the executive committee of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). The committee adopted a statement commending the Nixon Administration and Congress for their efforts to induce the Soviet Union to end its emigration policy and welcomed Nixon’s announcement that the Soviet Union has decided to suspend the education tax. The committee also noted that this Soviet decision “was accelerated by the extraordinary and unprecedented demonstration of Congressional support for the Jackson-Mills-Vanik amendment.”

The statement continued: “We support both trade and detente with the Soviet Union but we believe it is imperative for the Soviet Union to change its restrictive immigration policies in order to achieve detente. In the forthcoming weeks the Soviet commitment to the Administration will be tested by performance….”


In another development related to Soviet Jews it was announced yesterday that New York Mayor John V. Lindsay will leave tomorrow night on an official seven-day visit to the Soviet Union at the invitation of Mayor Vladimir Promyslov of Moscow and the Moscow City Council. Mayor and Mrs. Lindsay will spend five days in Moscow and two days in Leningrad. Lindsay will be accompanied on his trip by Seymour Graubard, national president of the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation League.

The announcement of the trip by City Hall stated that Lindsay will “take up the issue of Soviet Jewry with Soviet officials and private citizens including members of the Jewish community” while he is in Russia. The announcement said the Mayor would also participate in discussions of public administration and common urban problems in Moscow and Leningrad.

Graubard said he was invited to go along because he is active in the cause of Soviet Jewry and interested and active in problems of urban affairs. Graubard was one of the Jewish leaders who met with Promyslov when he was in New York last Feb. and was invited by him to visit the Soviet capital.

Stanley Lowell, chairman of the Greater New York Council for Soviet Jewry, was also asked by Lindsay to accompany him but Soviet authorities rejected Lowell’s application for a visa. Lowell nevertheless urged the Mayor to accept the invitation.

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