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March 25, 1966 - Image 14

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1966-03-25

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Russian Bias Exposed by Eyewitnesses

Continued from Page 1
Another eyewitness whose testi-
mony was presented to the Ad Hoc
Commission — an American-born
woman who spent 30 years in the
USSR — remained anonymous and
did not read her own statement
for fear that her friends and rela-
tives still in Soviet . Russia might
suffer reprisals, a commission
spokesman said.
Her testimony was read to the
panel by Marian Seldes, television
and Broadway actress, who starred
in the stage version of "The Wall,"
by John Hersey.
The witness, who was described
to the tribunal as having left the
Soviet Union "within the past few
years" after spending most of her
adult life there, said in her state-
"Anti-Semitism has spread its
pernicious influence far and wide
in the Soviet Union. It has cor-
rupted people at all levels of edu-
cation and professional skills.
"Discrimination has had one of
two effects on Jews. Some resent
having to 'pay' for something they
know nothing of and care less
about. They would like to cast off
the burden of their Jewishness.
"But others would like to know
more about Jewish history and
tradition, would like to acquire
pride in face of persecution. Should
a history of the Jews appear in
Russian in the Soviet Union, I have
no doubt it would be snapped
up at once."
The witness warned that restor-
ation of Soviet Jewry's cultural
and religious rights alone would
not change the "second-class
status" under which they live. She
told the panel in her statement:
"The entire image of the Jewish
people should be corrected. The
press and other mass media must
carry on an unceasing campaign
against anti-Semitism, and call it
by name.
"From my own experience," she
said, "I am certain that what
Soviet Jews want first is true
equality, and then the restoration
of secular culture — theaters,
schools, a Jewish press and Rus-
sian books about Jewish history,
culture, tradition."
Rabbi Israel Miller, president of
the Rabbinical Council of America,
who spoke from the pulpit of the
Moscow synagogue last summer,
said that the world Jewish com-
munity "stood as one" in seeking
to alleviate the plight of Soviet
"We ask for no more than that
which is given other religions and
nationality groups," he declared.
"We ask for nothing that is not
guaranteed by the Soviet consti-
"We realize that Communism is
philosophically opposed to religion,
but we know, too, that Commu-
nism is not a monolithic structure.
We have seen changes in economic
doctrines, emphasizing the private
sector of the economy. Conditions
differ in the various satellite Com-
munist nations."
Dr. Eric Goldhagen, director of
the Institute of East European
Jewish Affairs at Brandeis Univer-
sity, told the tribunal that the "ex-
tinction" of organized Jewish life
in the Soviet Union was a "cer-
tainty" if the present policies of
the Soviet government continued.
"In 10 or 15 years," he predicted,
"it will be difficult to find within
the Soviet Union a man capable of
performing a Jewish religious
burial ceremony, a Jewish wedding
or a Bar Mitzvah." •
Dr. Goldhagen said there were
only 40 or 50 rabbis still living in
the USSR, that their average age
was 65 and that there was no theo-
logical school to train young rabbis
in the Soviet Union.
"The Jews of the Soviet Union—
the second largest Jewish com-
munity in the world—have been
reduced by 50 years of Soviet rule
to a state of cultural and religious
dessication without parallel among
the religious and ethnic minorities

(Related Stories, Page 19)

of the Soviet Union," he declared,
"The Jewish community of the
USSR has been denied even a
single Jewish school.
"The teaching of Hebrew and
Yiddish to the young is prohibited
by the authorities. -
Another eyewitness — Dr. David
W. Weiss, associate professor of
bacteriology at the University of
California, who visited the USSR
last year at the invitation of the
Soviet Academy of Medical
Sciences — said that a "palpable
fear" gripped young and old Jews
alike whom he had met and talked
with in the Soviet Union.
Because Dr. Weiss was ill at his
home in California, his statement
was read.
The American scientist said in
his statement:
"The Jewish community in the
Soviet Union is in shambles,
created not by the indifference of
Jews but by the hostility of the
government. The visitor feels him-
self in an immense graveyard.
"Despite the destruction of all
cultural and almost all religious
means of expression, most Jews
of the Soviet Union still retain a
deep sense of Jewish identity, and
yearn for means of expressing their
Judd L. Teller, author of "The
Kremlin, the Jews and the Middle
East," was one of the six expert
witnesses who testified before the
panel. He said the Soviet Jew was
caught in a kind of "squeeze play
. . . between the top Moscow bu-
reaucracy, which coerces him to
assimilate, and the middle bureau-
cracy of the ethnic republics, in-
cluding the Great Russians, which
shuts off his avenues to assimila-
Former Premier Nikita Khrush-
chev, Teller said, "modified, but
never repudiated, even the worst
features of Stalin's anti-Jewish
policy. His own anti-Semitism was
deep and personal, and while his
political eclipse has removed his
personal anti-Semitism as a factor
in Soviet policy toward Jews, his
other arguments continue to in-
hibit a revision of Soviet policy."
The witness was critical of the
emphasis of American protests
against Soviet anti-Semitism,
which he said had put too much
stress on religious discrimination.
"It is true that the Jewish re-
ligion is the most under-privileged
of all in the USSR," he said. "This
condition should be protested. But
it does not meet the central' issue."
Teller continued:
"A majority of Soviet Jewry is
not religious at all. It is a creature
of its environment. American so-
ciety classifies its people in re-
ligious categories. The Jews, hence,
are regarded as primarily a re-
ligious denomination. The USSR
is a composite of ethnic republics.
It classifies the Jews as an ethnic
"If the Jew wishes to identify
himself there, he seeks channels
of ethnic affiliation. None exists.
There will be none until Yiddish
and Hebrew schools, newspapers,
publishing houses and theatres are
re-established, duplicated also by
Russian-language institutions for
those Jews who have no knowledge
of the Jewish languages."
The Tribunal heard a statement
by Bertrand Russell, British phi-
losopher, delivered at a meeting
of the Wofld Union of Jewish Stu-
dents in London last month. In it,
Lord Russell declared:

"The situation of Jews in the Soviet
Union is one of those tragic anomalies
that exercise the concern of those. who
are steadfastly opposed to the cold war
and seek greater understanding be-
tween the nations. The irony of this
situation is that Soviet Jews, survivors
of a people whose destruction was a
priority of Nazi Germany's war aims,
are still facing a problem of national
"In 1948 Stalin and his secret police
executed the Jewish creative intelli-
gentsia and totally destroyed Jewish
institutions, publishing houses, schools
and theaters and every vestige of na-
tional existence outside the syna-
gogues. De-Stalinization has brought
little improvement. Jews still have no
schools, no national theaters and no
secular communal institutions.
"Although restitution was frequently
promised in 1956 and 1957, only token
symbols of culture have been permitted
—a handful of books in the Yiddish
language published in small editions

and exploited as reassuring propa-
ganda abroad; one monthly Yiddish
magazine; one or two amateur. drama-
tic groups and a few touring Jewish
singers. This represents the total cul-
tural resources of three million people
traditonally regarded as one of the
most talented and creative Jewish
communities in the world.
"A comparison with other Soviet na-
tional groups in the Soviet Union are
given the opportunity to pursue a cul-
tural, social and political life of their
own denied to Soviet Jews.
"Although the anti-religious cam-
paign in the USSR is directed against.
all religions, it is prosecuted with ex-
ceptional severity against Judaism and
propaganda against the Jewish religion
often assumes the character of racial
"The closure of synagogues has been
conducted ruthlessly. Religious life is
additionally hindered by the denial to
Judaism of essential facilities available
to other recognized Soviet religions, to
the extent that makes it impossible to
practice Judaism with the freedom
guaranteed by the Soviet Constitution.
"It is particularly tragic that the
Soviet authorities have still taken no
steps to end the separation of mem-
bers of Jewish families disunited in
appalling circumstances during the
Nazi war. Elsewhere in Eastern Europe
Jews in similar positions have been
allowed family reunification. The
Soviet Union, however, has granted
exit permits only to a small number
of mainly elderly persons. Soviet Jews
have no opportunity to voice their
feelings publicly and are dependent on
the support of public opinion abroad.
"Discriminination against Jews in
the USSR, like the persecution of dis-
sident intellectuals, seriously impairs
the development of the Soviet Union
as a true socialist society and hinders
the efforts of all those working for in-
ternational co-existence."

Other witnesses at the tribunal
included: Meyer Levin, novelist
and author, who recently visited
the USSR; Max Hayward, senior
fellow at St. Antony's College, Ox-
ford University, and translator of
"Dr. Zhivago," and Maurice Sam-
uel, critic, translator and author of
"The World of Sholom Aleichem."

Russia Issues Another •
Book Rapping Zionism
and 'Bourgeois Judaism'

lently anti-Israel book, published
by a Soviet state publishing house,
has just appeared in the USSR, it
was learned here. The book
charges that "Zionism is the enemy
of all nations." Entitled "The Con-
struction of Communism and the
Destruction of Religious Vestiges."
the book also asserts that "bour-
geois nationalistic movements and
specifically Zionism have been de-
veloped in close contact with Juda-
ism. Zionism itself is a reaction-
ary and ultra-nationalistic move-
ment established- by bourgeois
A new and expanded edition of
a Russian translation of Bialik's
poems by Vladimir Jabotinsky, the

founder of the Zionist-Revisionist
movement, has been sold in the
Soviet Union in a limited number
of copies, it was reported here.
The book was published last
year by the Association of Soviet
Immigrants in Israel. The associa-
tion plans to publish next year a
Russian-language book on the es-
tablishment of the State of Israel.

Israel Needs Shipments
of Food to Meet Shortage

American government has now un-
der consideration a request from
Israel for incseased United States
food shipnients to meet the short-
ages caused by the drought. The
Israel for increased United States
larger shipments of wheat, grain
and meat.
It is almost certain that Wash-
ington will refuse the meat ship-
ments because of the shortage of
this commodity on the world mar-

European Rabbis Plead
for Rights of USSR Jews
PARIS (JTA) — The Standing
14—Friday, March 25, 1966
Committee of the Conference of
European Rabbis appealed to the
forthcoming Communist Party con-
For Some
gress to meet a "historic opportu-
nity and profound humane obliga-
of the
tion to remove the disabilities of
the Jewish people of the USSR and
to restore the rights to which they
are entitled." The appeal followed
consideration of the position of
Russian Jews and an expression of
"deep concern."









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