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State Department Outlines U.S. Views on Anti-semitism in Russia

August 9, 1962
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The State Department said today that it would not favor the recall of the U. S. Ambassador from Moscow to Washington as a protest against Soviet anti-Semitism because U.S. Government intercession might do Soviet Jewry more harm than good.

The Department’s views were conveyed in a letter by Assistant Secretary of State Frederick G. Dutton to Sen. Thomas J. Dodd, of Connecticut, who had urged the recall of the Ambassador. Mr. Dutton said: “Despite the reports of more forceful action against Soviet Jewry, and other religious groups, it still does not seem that the Soviet authorities have decided to return on a large scale to the extremely repressive methods employed against religious groups and racial minorities during the Stalin era.

“It is not clear from the available information whether police action against various individual Jews has its actual basis in anti-Semitism or whether this arises from the presently intensified campaign of the Soviet authorities to stamp out black marketeering, speculation and other economic crimes involving illegal manufacturing, theft or misappropriation of state property, bribery of officials, and other chronic abuses,” the State Department official stated.

He noted that “the majority of Jews arrested have been accused of such acts, considered criminal under Soviet law and susceptible to harsh sentences up to and including capital punishment.” He considered it impossible “to determine whether Soviet Jews are deliberately being singled out as Jews for a disproportionate amount of condemnation and victimization.” He acknowledged a continuing “long-term Soviet campaign against religion generally” but did not feel an extreme, new anti-Jewish campaign was taking place.

Commenting on the proposal to recall the U.S. Ambassador, Mr. Dutton said: “While such a step might dramatize the problem, it would have no positive effect upon the actions of the Soviet Government toward Soviet Jews or upon their position in the Soviet Union. Indeed, it could even do more harm than good.” He stressed that the Soviet Union considers this problem “a purely internal matter,” and revealed that the State Department had raised the question several times in past years without apparent result.

“It is doubtful if further protestations would be helpful to the Jews in the Soviet Union,” he said. “The Soviet Government has always accused Soviet Jews of being under the influence of foreign governments, including the United States. Further intervention concerning the problems of the Jewish minority in the U.S.S.R, might well redound to the disadvantage of Soviet Jewry. “

The State Department thought it preferable if those concerned about Soviet Jewry acted as private individuals and through private organizations to bring persecution to the notice of world public opinion, and cited the United Nations Commission on Human Rights as a possible helpful agency interested in such data.

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