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U.S. Stand on Treatment of Jews in Russia Strongly Criticized in Senate

March 16, 1962
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Members of Congress were discussing today the attitude of the State Department toward the discriminations against Jews in the Soviet Union following a heated discussion on the Senate floor last night on this subject in which four Senators participated.

The discussion was precipitated following the release by Senator Jacob Javits, New York Republican, and by Congressman Leonard Farbstein, New York Democrat, of copies of two separate but similar letters from the State Department explaining the U.S. Government’s stand on the anti-Jewish discriminations in the Soviet Union.

Senator Kenneth Keating, New York Republican, then voiced a complaint from the Senate floor against the State Department for failure to do anything about the situation. He was followed by Republican Senators Leverett Saltonstall of Massachusetts and Prescott Bush of Connecticut who took the floor to denounce Soviet actions.

Senator Keating told the Senate he received this week a State Department memorandum purporting to be “the latest the Department has” on the situation but which, the Senator declared, was “an exact copy, nearly word for word” of a letter he received from the Department last December 20.

“Far from being a new and up-to-date report,” said Senator Keating, “it is a sad indication to me that the State Department has done nothing about this very pressing problem for the last three months.” The New Yorker, who has made numerous Senate speeches on Soviet mistreatment of its Jewish citizens, charged that “we have gathered no new information; we have made no further efforts to publicize the problem; and we have made no overtures, diplomatically or otherwise, to mitigate the anti-Semitism and persecution that now exists in Russia.”


Senator Javits told the Senate that the recent imposition of death sentences upon 12 Jews, including four in Vilna, for illegal exchange transactions “have sent a shudder throughout the civilized world.” In his speech, which touched off a floor discussion lasting almost one hour, Senator Javits expressed fear “that such persecutions in a country where anti-Semitic tradition is so deeply rooted as in the USSR, may well be the forerunner of even more widespread oppression and tyranny.”

In the course of his remarks, Sen. Javits read into the Congressional Record the text of a letter from Assistant Secretary of State Frederick Dutton which suggested that the appeals from private religious groups in this country might have an ameliorating effect on the situation–a view which Mr. Dutton had previously set forth and for which Sen. Javits expressed support.

The letter to Sen. Javits, like the one to Rep. Farbstein–also signed by Mr. Dutton–used essentially -the same language which Sen. Keating complained was contained in the letter he received last December and then again this week. The Javits and Farbstein letters reiterated the Department’s position that the United States finds it “difficult to contribute to the direct solution of the problems of minorities in a territory where the Soviet Government exercises full control.” Both letters also re-stated the U. S. position that any protests to the Soviet Union from private organizations should be made “without any reference to the United States Government.”

Senator Saltonstall, commenting on Sen. Javits’ speech, said that appeals to the Soviet Union on behalf of its Jewish citizens should be made “on humane grounds, with the hope that the Soviet Government will recognize what they are doing to human beings.”

Senator Bush, expressing shock about reports of Soviet anti-Jewish activities, told the Senate that he joins Sen. Javits “in any effort which may be made to persuade the State Department to take action and to express more vociferously our protest as a nation against this type of inhuman treatment.”

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