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Robert F. Kennedy Requests USSR to Liberalize Treatment of Jews

April 1, 1966
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Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, New York Democrat, has urged here that the Soviet Union liberalize treatment of Jewish citizens in the USSR: He linked his appeal to the fact that the Passover season would be a fitting time for the announcement of such a policy, and the further fact that the Communist Party of the USSR is now holding its 23rd congress in Moscow.

Noting certain recently reported improvements in the Russian Jewish situation, Sen: Kennedy said in a statement issued here last night that those developments are “encouraging steps in the right direction. He pointed specifically to the opening of a Jewish theater in Vilna; a proposal for the erection of a monument in Babi Yar, the Kiev ravine where many thousands of Jews were buried by the Nazis, after being victims of mass murder; and promises to print Jewish prayer books and reopen a yeshiva in Moscow.

Citing these instances, the senator said: “Much more is necessary to meet the problem of religious and cultural deprivation facing Russian Jews. ” He asked for a “thorough educational campaign by the Soviet Government to eradicate anti-Semitism” and to support of Jewish communal institutions and cultural identity.

Mr. Kennedy said the nations of the world would judge Russia on its treatment of Jews at a time when Moscow seeks to have widened its contacts. American citizens, he declared, would be reluctant to travel to Russia if minorities are mistreated: He stated that this Passover could be “a renewed time of liberation,” if the Soviet Union were to ease its anti-Jewish restrictions.

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