Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Mixed Reaction to Ajcongress Support of Credits for USSR

June 13, 1978
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

A mixed reaction greeted a statement by the American Jewish Congress to a House subcommittee last week in support of a bill suspending the Jackson-Vanik Amendment so that export credits could be granted to the USSR and other Soviet bloc states for the purchase of American grain and other farm products. The AJCongress said it favored the suspension as a quid pro quo, an “almost exact symbolic equivalent of the recent modest increase in Soviet Jewish emigration.”

But an aide to Sen. Henry M. Jackson (D. Wash.) fold the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today that the Senator opposes any relaxation of the ban on export credits “because of the total situation.” He cited “the perilous position of key refusniks” such as Vladimir Slepak, Anatoly Shcharansky and Alexander Ginzburg. The Senator feels that such action would “not be an appropriate move at this time,” the aide said.

The AJCongress made its statement to the Subcommittee on Economic Policy and Trade of the House International Relations Committee. Subcommittee chairman Jonathan Bingham (D.NY) who, like Jackson, is a staunch supporter of Soviet Jewry, took a position opposite to that of his colleague in the Senate.

Bingham told the JTA that the AJCongress statement was “a significant development” which “demonstrates the willingness of Americans to respond reasonably and even generously to concrete steps by the Soviets to improve relations and abide by internationally recognized principles of humanitarianism. I think the Congress will take it quite seriously,” he said. He added that he “would feel personally better about it if Shcharansky were not still facing trial and if Slepak had not just been arrested.”


The AJCongress said in its statement submitted last Thursday that “the Russians permit a small additional increment of emigration, we permit a small increment of relief from the constraints of Jackson-Vanik and at the same time we gain an expanded market for the American farmer and a corresponding favorable increase in our trade abroad.” The statement was presented on behalt of the AJCongress by Henry Rosovsky, chairman; Marshall Goldman, consultant; and Phil Baum, director of the organization’s Commission on International Affairs.

It suggested that “Soviet Jewish emigration figures in recent months can, if one wishes, reasonably be interpreted as constituting something of a gesture in the right direction.” The AJCongress noted that 1474 Jews were permitted to leave the USSR in August, 1977 compared to 815 in August, 1976; 1850 compared to 1254 in October of both years. Total emigration for the period September, 1976-March, 1977 was 9745 compared to 14,090 for the period September, 1977-March, 1978.

Recommended from JTA