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Former Envoy Urges Ncsj to ‘keep the Pressure On’

October 14, 1987
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Arthur Hartman, former United States Ambassador to the Soviet Union, urged the Jewish community Monday night to continue public pressure for the rights of Soviet Jews by concentrating on methods that will gain results.

“In every decision you take and whenever you talk about this subject, be sure the self-righteous motives are much less than those of accomplishing something, of getting people out,” he told some 200 persons attending the Leadership Assembly of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry (NCSJ) at the Capital Hilton Hotel. “We’ve got to keep the pressure on.”

Hartman spoke at a dinner during which Jerry Goodman, the NCSJ’s executive director, presented the former envoy with NCSJ’s “Light of Freedom” award, a Chanukia with an inscription citing “his commitments to the ideals of freedom and his support for the freedom of Soviet Jews.”

Hartman was accompanied to the dinner by Vladimir Feltsman, the Soviet pianist, and his wife, Anna, who recently emigrated to the U.S. He also displayed a self-portrait by Vladimir Slepak, which the long-time refusenik gave him when he left Moscow.

While urging the need for rallies and other demonstrations of public support for Soviet Jewry, Hartman stressed that “the personal relationships you maintain with individuals in the Soviet Union” is the most important thing each person can do, because it lifts the morale of refuseniks and shows them that they are not alone.

But Hartman said he had not favored the Jackson-Vanik Amendment because “I am a pragmatist and did not see how it could be used by any Administration in bargaining with the Soviet Union.” He explained that he did not believe Americans, and particularly members of Congress, would ever agree on how many emigrants would be sufficient to waive the legislation which ties most-favored-nation trade benefits for the USSR with increased emigration.


However, Frank Carlucci, President Reagan’s National Security Adviser, stressed to the NSCJ Tuesday that Reagan has recently reiterated his support of Jackson-Vanik. “I know of no one in the Administration who is currently contemplating a waiver of Jackson-Vanik,” he said.

While noting that Jewish emigration has increased substantially this year to some 5,400 by the end of September, he said the Soviets still “have a long way to go.”

Carlucci said he could not define the level of emigration that would be sufficient. He said it was “like pornography, we can’t define it, but we’ll know it when we see it.”

He pledged that Reagan will discuss the issue of human rights with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev at the expected summit in Washington later this year, as he did at the two previous summits. Carlucci said the issue will be also raised by Secretary of State George Shultz when he goes to Moscow next week as he did in his meeting in Washington last month with Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze.

He said that during the recent Shultz-Shevardnadze meeting, the Soviets displayed a “new willingness” to listen to the cases of individual refuseniks and agreed to a new system in which the U.S. Embassy in Moscow could bring up such issues.

Carlucci said there are “enormous changes” going on in the Soviet Union as a result of Gorbachev’s policy of “glasnost” but progress in human rights has so far been “a trickle at best.”

Hartman also said that while there were changes, improvements in Soviet society had to go against not only 70 years of Communism, but also hundreds of years of Russian history of authoritarianism. He said such a society will not encourage emigration.

But he added that the Soviets under Gorbachev understand that they must deal with internal problems and thus need a period of calm. In order to obtain this, the Soviets are ready to meet some of the concerns of the outside world, Hartman said.

He said the U.S. response should be that these improvements in human rights are welcome, but “we want more.”

Rep. Jack Kemp (R. NY) also told the NCSJ Tuesday that this was a historic chance to obtain changes in human rights from the Soviets. “If we miss this opportunity, if we don’t use this moment of time to press forward on this issue, we will be guilty, not them,” he said.

Morris Abram, who was re-elected chairman of the NCSJ, also stressed Monday night that the Jewish community had the opportunity from now until Chanukah “to make an enormous rescue” effort of the one-sixth of the Jewish people who live in the USSR that will be as “an important an exodus” as Moses led 3,000 years ago.

he urged a massive turnout at the rally planned for Washington when the Reagan-Gorbachev summit is held.

In addition to Hartman, the NCSJ also honored Monday night Joshua Pratt, a retiring Israeli diplomat who spearheaded the Soviet Jewry movement while serving at the Israel Consulate in New York and recently at the Israel Embassy here. The Jewish Federation of Greater Houston received the NCSJ’s Merit Award.

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