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Americans Urged to Press USSR to Allow Jews to Emigrate or to Allow Those Remaining to Practice Thei

December 14, 1981
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

A B’nai B’rith executive urged Americans — both Jews and non-Jews — to press the Soviet Union to reopen the gates of emigration to the hundreds of thousands of Jews who wish to leave and to allow those who remain the right to practice their religion.

Addressing the Women’s Plea for Soviet Jewry on Human Rights Day last Thursday, Warren Eisenberg director of the International Council of B’nai B’rith, said that in recent years Jews have been held hostage to productive relations between the United States and the Soviet Union. “When they show signs of progress, emigration flows; when the relationship cools, emigration is dammed up, “Eisenberg said.

Noting that the emigration of Jews from the USSR had virtually ceased, slowing from more than 50,000 in 1979 to less than 10,000 for 1981, Eisenberg said as bad as this was, it was made worse by flagrant persecution and anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union.

He pointed out that although Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev took a stand against anti-Semitism at the 26th Communist Party congress last February, “He cynically opposes the most basic Jewish right to be identified with a national homeland.” Eisenberg added that of the 105 identifiable cultural groups in the USSR, only Jews suffer cultural and religious deprivation, a behavior he described as “unconscionable.”

Eisenberg urged Americas — especially those who have supported the cause of Soviet Jewry–to “lay the groundwork for actions that can and will pay off again.” Citing the alarm of Soviet leaders in the face of President Reagan’s tough talk, he said that as one result, the Soviets “are shopping for an alternative to the President’s views in the United States.”

Eisenberg criticized the Reagan Administration for following up its tough talk with shipments of grain to the USSR. “We must get something of value in return for our trade,” he said.

Referring to Soviet treatment of Jews, he said Americans must be insistent in its demands for Soviet Jews as well as prepare for improved relations with the Soviets.

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