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Washington Conference Leaders Cable to Khrushchev on Soviet Jews

April 2, 1964
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The two-day conference of 24 major Jewish organizations on the situation of the Jews in the Soviet Union will open here this weekend at the Willard Hotel “to adopt a long-range program of national and international scope to deal with the deteriorating status of Jews and Judaism in the USSR.

Organizers of the conference have sent a cable to Premier Khrushchev asking him to comment on the issues to be discussed at the conference but no reply has yet been received from Moscow. However, the efforts displayed in recent days by Soviet diplomats here indicate that the Russians are not without concern over the negative impact their recent anti-Jewish moves have created on world public opinion.

Leaders of the conference intend to send a delegation to the State Department to meet with Secretary of State Dean Rusk on the problems which the conference will discuss. Among the main speakers scheduled to address the conference is Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg and Senators Jacob Javits of New York and Abraham Ribicoff of Connecticut.

Senator Javits made public today a letter from Assistant Secretary of State Frederick Dutton informing him that the Soviet Foreign Ministry described the shipment of individual parcels of matzohs from the United States to Russian Jews as “an intrusion in the internal affairs of the Soviet Union.” Before the shipments were dispatched, the Soviet Union indicated that individual parcels could be sent and Jewish organizations even paid here in dollars for the Soviet customs duty for the parcels.

The Soviet attitude was disclosed in the Ministry’s reply to repeated inquiries by the American Embassy in Moscow. From the letter of Mr. Dutton, it appears that the American Embassy in Moscow went into considerable trouble on this matter and finally received a rather rude reply from the Soviet Foreign Ministry.

When the Embassy made its first inquiry, it was asked by the Soviets to provide all the details on each shipment. The Embassy provided all the information it could get in a hurry and a few days later again queried the Soviet Foreign Ministry on the delivery of the parcels. This time the Soviets told the Embassy of their “surprise” that they would intrude in internal Soviet matters and added that there was sufficient supply of matzoth. The Soviet Foreign Ministry stressed that since foreign trade is a state monopoly, such shipments were interference in Soviet foreign trade.

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