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Lindsay Expresses Disappointment with White House Letter on Soviet Jewry

May 2, 1972
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Mayor John V. Lindsay reported today that he had received a “disappointing” reply from the White House to a letter he sent to President Nixon asking the President to take up the matter “of the denial to Soviet Jews of expressions of their religious and cultural life and their desire to emigrate” when the President meets with Soviet leaders in Moscow.

The Mayor said that, in his letter he had recalled that the Soviet people had suffered “greatly” from the German invasion and that they should be “responsive to a people who suffered six million dead. Their own history should lead the Soviet leaders to recognize the rights of their Jewish citizens, the same rights accorded to the various national and ethnic groups of the Soviet Union.” Asserting that the matter “merits a high place on your agenda,” the Mayor wrote that it was his “profound hope that it will be discussed during your visit, and the matter equitably resolved.”

Lindsay said he received a reply from Martin J. Hillebrand, assistant secretary for European Affairs. Hillebrand cited the administration’s support of the “fundamental right of all people to emigrate” and “concern for the plight of minorities of all nations denied the freedom due them under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”

In commenting on the reply, Lindsay said he wanted to stress “the point that the experience of Soviet Jews is unique, in that they, out of the many national and ethnic groups in the Soviet Union, are singled out for discriminatory treatment. Synagogues are being closed down, there is no rabbinic body to continue the training of rabbis, there are no schools teaching the Yiddish or Hebrew language, many obstacles are placed in the way of their emigration.” The Mayor added that, “since Soviet Jews are singled out for discriminatory treatment, the matter should be dealt with as a specific issue, to be equitably resolved.”

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