Morris Abram, chairman of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry, said today that the Reagan Administration is pursuing the “right course” in the effort to help the Jews of the Soviet Union.
“It is an issue which I think the Administration is concerned about and is pushing,” Abram said after a dozen national Jewish leaders met with Secretary of State George Shultz for an hour at the State Department. “I wish some of the Western allies were equally as vigilant on behalf of this international human right.”
Abram said the purpose of today’s meeting was to follow up the one held before the recent European Security Conference in Stockholm and to urge upon Shultz “a continued perseverance and determination on behalf of the rescue of Soviet Jews.”
THREE MAJOR ISSUES RAISED
Three major issues in connection with Soviet Jewry were raised. The first was a lack of emigration. Abram noted that there are at least 350,000 Jews who want to leave the USSR.
He said the second issue was to “protest anti-Semitism which is rampant still in the Soviet Union. ” The Jewish leaders also protested “the use by the Soviet Union and its allies of the United Nations as a megaphone to broadcast anti-Semitism throughout the world, ” Abram said. “The Soviet Union is unfortunately the only great power since Hitler to use anti-Semitism as an instrument of national policy.”
Abram said Shultz “is totally committed to the rescue of Soviet Jewry and we think that he is on the right course which is the course of determination and the course of perseverance.”
SHULTZ DISAPPOINTED WITH LOW EMIGRATION RATE
Shultz “expressed disappointment that the trickle of Jews that are leaving the Soviet Union is still a mere trickle,” according to Abram. “He is not able to say when it will increase, but like ourselves, he is confident that he is on the right course and that eventually there will be an amelioration of the circun-stances that presently exist.”
Abram stressed that Israel can only protest the situation. He noted that Shultz has brought up the issue of Soviet Jewry in all of his meetings with Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko and has instructed his ambassadors to raise the issue in their meetings with Soviet officials, not as a “throw away item,” but as a “front-burner issue.”
Abram expressed the hope that Konstantin Chernenko, the new Soviet leader, might allow emigration to increase because of his closeness to the late Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev, under whose regime more than 250,000 Jews left the USSR.
A similar hope was expressed by Israeli Premier Yitzhak Shamir and Leon Dulzin, chairman of the Jewish Agency and World Zionist Organization Exectives, shortly after Chernenko was named Communist Party Secretary. But Abram emphasized that this was only a hope and there was as yet no facts to substantiate it.
SHULTZ GIVEN EIGHT RECOMMENDATIONS
Lynn Singer, president of the Union of Council for Soviet Jews, gave Shultz a list of eight recommendations on actions he might follow. They included urging the Administration to condemn “the recent incidents by tourist harassment in the USSR” and the “virulent anti-Semitism sanctioned” by the Kremlin.
Singer also urged the Administration to reopen negotiations to establish a U.S. Consulate in Kiev, to take action to mark the eighth anniversary of Anatoly Shcharansky’s arrest on March 15, to “continue to upgrade the content and technical quality of the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty,” and to “press the Soviets to allow family visits, correspondence and medical treatment to Soviet Prisoners of Conscience.”
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.