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Goldmann; Soviet Jewry is a Major Issue Confronting World Jewry

February 4, 1975
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Declaring that the future of three million Jews in the Soviet Union is one of the major issues confronting world Jewry today, Dr. Nahum Goldmann, president of the World Jewish Congress, charged tonight that the Jewish people committed two errors in attacking the problem. One was over-reaction and exaggerated acts against the Soviet regime and the other was “the unilateral or even exclusive concentration on the issue of emigration,” he told 500 delegates from 65 countries attending the opening session of the Sixth Plenary Assembly of the WJC.

Dr. Goldmann said, “Acts like those of the Jewish Defense League, the molestation of individual Soviet diplomats, the attempts to disturb concerts and artistic performances by Soviet artists, even Jewish artists, the identification of Soviet anti-Semitism with Nazism were unjustified and could only boomerang.”

On the matter of emigration, he asserted. “The Soviet Jewish problem has two aspects; one, that of the 100,000 or so who want to go to Israel; the other, that of the millions who will remain in Russia and must be assured of facilities to live as Jews.”


Concerning emigration, Dr. Goldmann said, “I hope that we have gained a real victory, but we will have to wait and see….In the meantime, it has become obvious for all and is no longer a controversial issue that, with the same emphasis as we put on the struggle for the right of Soviet Jews to emigrate, we must fight for their right to live as Jews, particularly as they are formally and constitutionally recognized as a minority.” He said that those who deny that this can be accomplished “fail to realize that it may mean giving up or writing off millions of Jews which would be an historical crime.”

Dr. Goldmann said that the Soviet repudiation of its 1972 trade pact with the U.S. “due to a large degree though not exclusively to the Jackson Amendment, naturally alters the situation as regards emigration.” He said he did not believe the repudiation “means the end of the policy of detente or indicates a change in the principle of the Soviet Union to improve relations with the U.S…..I hope it is not wishful thinking when I contend that emigration will go on more or less as in the last year.”

He added, however, that “the denunciation of the trade agreement indicates that Russia is less amenable to American pressure or American public opinion. This means that future public action to induce the Soviet Union to continue or even increase Jewish emigration must be even more cautious than in the past, since any exaggerated attacks might provoke the USSR to stop emigration completely.”

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