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National Leadership Assembly Stresses Nixon Role for Soviet Jews

May 16, 1972
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Richard Maass, chairman of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry, and Jacob Stein, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, declared today that “on the eve of President Nixon’s historic trip to Moscow, we wish to emphatically stress that we expect the President to raise the Issue of Soviet Jewry on the highest level. We know that at this time nothing short of the President’s personal intervention will be acceptable to Soviet Jews. This is the message that many of them have conveyed to us and to the White House.”

This statement was issued following the morning session of an emergency National Leadership Assembly for Soviet Jews which drew top Jewish leaders from across the nation. The Assembly was sponsored by the NCSJ and the Conference of Presidents. All sessions of the Assembly were closed to the public. Delegates discussed tactics in response to recent reports of a deteriorating situation with respect to Soviet Jews, including new trials of Jewish activists. The expectations and implications of Nixon’s upcoming trip were of prime concern to the delegates.

Deputy Secretary of State for European Affairs, Richard T, Davies, representing the administration, assured the Assembly that Nixon is being kept informed about the most recent wave of anti-Jewish activity in the Soviet Union, Davies, in response to specific questions about what Nixon would do, indicated that “your concern would be represented in the appropriate way in Moscow” especially in light of recent harassment of scores of Jewish activists prior to the US-USSR summit meeting.


“A White Book of Exodus” written by Soviet Jews and recently smuggled out of the Soviet Union was given to Davies by Maass, to be delivered to Secretary of State William P. Rogers. The book documents the harassments and oppression of Soviet Jews during 1971-72. Jerry Goodman, NCSJ executive director, stated that this “White Book” contains “new information never before disclosed and is the best collection of samizdat (underground literature) to have come out of the Soviet Union from the Jewish activist movement.” The names of the compilers of the book were withheld for security purposes.

In remarks prepared for delivery to the Assembly, Vitaly Svechinsky, a founder of the Jewish activist movement in the Soviet Union and chairman of a newly created committee of former Soviet activists in Israel, stressed the importance of Nixon’s trip to Moscow as seen by Soviet Jews. Svechinsky, who is in regular contact with former colleagues in the USSR, relayed an urgent appeal from Jews in Moscow who consider Nixon’s trip the single most important opportunity for a redress of present Soviet policy towards its Jewish minority.

Rep. Jack F. Kemp (R.-C. N.Y.), announced that a petition formulated by the NCSJ, addressed to Nixon, and urging the President to place Soviet Jewry on the agenda for his Moscow talks, was signed by 143 members of Congress from almost every state in the Union. A similar petition signed by all participants in the Assembly, and representing close to 1.4 million signatures, was presented to Davies.

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