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At the World Conference on Soviet Jewry: Alarming New Manifestations of Anti-semitism in the Soviet

March 15, 1983
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

A first-hand report of alarming new manifestations of anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union, including Jew-baiting games played by high school students, was presented here today by 14 members of the American Jewish Committee, who flew here directly from a visit to the USSR last week.

The group, headed by AJCommittee president Maynard Wishner, are delegates to the third World Conference on Soviet Jewry which opens here tomorrow. According to Wishner, “in several cities, Jews who never even sought to emigrate from the USSR have been set upon and beaten up. This is a new development which in the past has been reserved for Jews who had filed to emigrate.”

Wishner described a “new game” called “concentration camp” played by high school students in Leningrad. “Jewish students are given identification numbers and are addressed by number rather than by name for days and sometimes weeks on end,” he said. He noted that, along the same lines, publications claiming that the Holocaust never occurred and that Jews had cooperated with the Nazis are appearing in increasing numbers.

Wishner said the worsening conditions for Soviet Jews are “collected impressions which we can relay after speaking directly to 25-30 refuseniks in the course of our visit” to Russia. By contrast, he said, Soviet officials who met with the AJCommittee delegation sought to assure them that “Any Jews may leave Russia with the exception of a few thousand people who are being kept for specific reasons.”

Wishner urged increased attention to the Soviet Union’s “fundamental denial of human decency We had hoped that the change of leadership might lead to a modification of policy but there is no sign of this.”

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