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State Department Confirms Existence of Anti-semitism in Russia

June 11, 1962
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

A highly publicized open letter last month, denying the existence of anti-Semitism in Soviet Russia, and allegedly signed by five prominent Soviet Jews, has been refuted by the Department of State, Senator Jacob Javits of New York told the Senate this weekend.

The New York lawmaker, who made public an exchange of letters on the subject between himself and the Department, said that the Department has raised three “imperative points” in knocking down the Soviet claim. He said the Department feels:

1. That there “is clear evidence of the resort by the (Soviet) regime to discriminatory measures against Jews in access to higher education.”

2. That “the desecration of cemeteries, closing of synagogues, dispersing of prayer meetings, arrests of lay leaders, prohibitions of certain Jewish religious practices have been well established.”

3. That the Soviet dissemination of the letter “is a sign of increased sensitivity to charges of anti-Semitism and is no doubt calculated to counter recent foreign publicity of deliberate anti-Semitic actions by the Soviet regime.”

Senator Javits, who was specifically named in the Soviet letter as one who has made charges of anti-Semitism in Russia, told the Senate that he too believes the letter “to be an official Soviet reaction; and, rather than answering my original charges, it confirms and substantiates them.”

The State Department letter labeled as “misleading” some of the figures used in the open letter of last month, citing as an example the Yiddish language publication, “Sovietish Heimland,” which the Soviet Government boasts is evidence of the absence of official anti-Jewish feeling. The State Department pointed out that, in 1935, there were far more books and periodicals in Yiddish than those published today, and that their combined circulation far exceeded the circulation of the lone Yiddish publication currently being published.

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