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May 18, 1979 - Image 2

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1979-05-18

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

2 Friday, May 18, 1919


Purely Commentary

Would That Time Could Speed a Solution to the Horrors
Confronting Iran Jews, as History Repeats Itself ...
Communist Roguery in Novosti Human Rights Abomination

By Philip

Iran Jewry: History Repeats Itself in 'Too Little, Too Late' Realization of Nearing Terror

Whoever ridicules the contention that "history repeats itself' finds the dictum
fulfilled in the Jewish experience in Iran.
Polish, Romanian, Hungarian, German and other Jewries had been warned of
impending crises in the years preceding the terrors that befell them. They trusted to luck
and said they had faith the governments under which they lived would overcome dangers
from the threatening mobs. They lost.

Iranian Jews were warned. Many could have been rescued. Their children might
have had the security they now crave for. They had faith. Many even clung to faith in

Novosti's Role as Perpetrator
of Political, Social Chicanery

Human rights are not an issue to be used as a football
and to permit villainy to distort reality. This is what official
Communist propaganda apparently aims at.
While increasing the number of visas issued to dissi-
dents for emigration, vicious references to those desiring to
leave the Soviet Union mark the "news release" accredited
to Novosti News Agency, the officially endorsed press serv-
ice of the USSR, under the title "A White Paper on Human
Rights." It quotes what it calls a "white paper" issued by the
Soviet Lawyers Association, claiming to contain tes-
timonies and facts about the fate of people who have left the
Soviet Union to live in the West. Here is the contention:
"This mass of evidence shows that, for these former
Soviet citizens, Western freedoms have turned out to be
unemployment, social inequality, humiliation and family
It is useless to attempt to counteract such an effort to
confuse the minds of the Russian people about the actual
state of affairs related to the emigration processes. Novosti
undoubtedly seeks a platform for the distortion of the ac-
tual facts. Yet one must sit in amazement at reading such
tripe. The United States has allocated sizable sums to assist
emigres from Russia, to provide for their housing and the
education of their children, to assure protection of their
health, to encourage them in choice of jobs. But for Novosti
there is only darkness on the road of those who ask the right
to leave the land of oppression!
The Soviet agents probably know, with tongue in
cheek as they pen their propaganda, that they can't fool
everybody. They apparently know that there is no mislead-
ing the West on the truth, but hope that the Russians can be
led to believe that emigration, and therefore human rights,
are the aims of dissidents, protesters against the Soviet
Union, who are building up an espionage system.
The political and social chicanery imbedded in the
latest Soviet actions are an amusing -portrayal of the art of
propaganda which could be viewed as addressed mainly for
home consumption. But the roguery is so apparent that the
source needs to be exposed. The Novosti "news" release
credits the permeators of the latest villainy as follows:

The president of the Soviet Lawyers Associa-
tion, Lev Smirnov, who holds the post of president
of the USSR Supreme Court, headed the editorial
board of highly-qualified specialists who col-
lected in the "white paper" the testimonies of
more than 1,000 people, plus more than 100 docu-
ments and photographs. The irrefutable facts in
the book expose the hypocritical nature of the
campaign which the Carter Administration is
conducting under the slogan of human rights de-
"The rights of a citizen are the rights to exist-
ence worthy of human dignity," Lev Smirnov em-
phasized in an interview with a Novosti Press
Agency commentator. "The right to work, the
right to maintenance in old age, in case of sickness
and in the event of complete or partial disability
or loss of the breadwinner, the right to housing,
the right to education, the right to enjoy cultural
benefits — this is the set of human rights effecting
the very foundation of people's lives. All these
rights are ensured in the Soviet Union."'
This is how Soviet roguery is treated: the perpetrators of
lies are given a platform, as in this instance, and it is in
order that the sources of the evils stemming from Russian
Communism should be known.
The Novosti release makes much of the new Russian
settlers in Israel. Of course, Israel persecutes them. Of
course, there is racism there. Of course, Israel holds them
as captives. This is the Russian Communist way of trying to
save face for the protests expressed in the USSR against the
indecencies and oppressions of the Communist regime.
Meanwhile, Russian Jews are free to settle wherever
they choose and those who come to Israel or the United
States or Canada or Australia kiss the ground that gives
them haven.
What about the Russians who bring reports of racism
in Israel and oppressive persecutions in the U.S.? There
have been, admittedly, and they have been quoted, a hand-
ful of Russian Jews who expressed dissatisfaction with the
new homes provided for them after they asked for visas to

Khomeini. Who is to judge them? How would those who are now in the position of judges
react if they were in the position of the Iranian Jews?
There is only one subject on the agenda: how can the endangered be rescued? Israel
offers help. If necessary, all Iranian Jews would be welcomed to the Jewish state. Could
they retain even a portion of their possessions? They can't take their properties with
them, but they can take their children.
Perhaps they won't even concede to emigration opportunities. Perhaps they are
waiting for the miracle of tolerance permitting them to remain under a Khomeini edict.
The tragedy is at hand. Would that time could speed a solution.

leave the land that "branded" them as "Jews" on passposts
and identity cards. But they were so few that only their
Russian propaganda registered their voices.
Granted, 1,000 defected from the ranks of the emigres,
that 100 statements are the basis for the Novosti and the
Soviet Lawyers Association. If true, what is this number
contrasted with 150,000 or more who have left Russia in the
last few years to bless their rescuers in Israel and
There is no debating with moral knavery and political
chicanery. Novosti policies are not a secret to anyone who •
has an understanding of truth in news. How can misrep-
resentations be avoided? They really have no effect on any
one, certainly not on the tens of thousands of Russian dissi-
dents, most of them Jews, who wish to remain Jews in
freedom but refuse to be "branded" by oppressors; and the
many Christians who refuse to buckle under the whips of
While the Novosti spokesmen attack the human rights
ideals promulgated by President Carter, they remain tools
of a USSR effort to gain U.S. Most Favored Nation status
and for that purpose yield to demands for visas to emi-
grants. Perhaps there is new treachery in the offing, in the
USSR quest for MFN status. That remains to be seen and
Internationally, in the human spirit, as a matter of
right, people, regardless of origin, have the freedom to
choose where they are to live. The Soviet spokesmen may
not challenge this established United Nations principle,
but they certainly abuse those who welcome new emigrants
and are intolerant to those seeking visas for emigration.
This, contrary to the untruths circulated by USSR
spokesmen, is not the Israel rule. No matter what the cost of
settling newcomers from Russia, those who are unhappy
can leave if they wish; just as those who remain, as in the
U.S., are provided with every opportunity for a good educa-
tion, protected health, adequate housing, good jobs. It is the
lie from the Kremlin via Novosti that makes the best
human relations between the Soviet leaders and the world
at large so difficult. It is not easy to believe that their
actions would be approved by those over who they dominate
if the Russian citizens understood the tactics of the dic-

The - Statute of Limitations:
U.S. Congress and German Assertion

A positive step taken by the U.S. House of Representa-
tives, adding a powerful plea for abandonment of the Ger-
man Statute of Limitations for the prosecution of Nazi
criminals, adds invaluably towards the correction of an
existing law which would end the punishments for the most
vicious crimes in history.
Now there also are being heard voices in West Ger-
many and there is hope that the statute will be amended so
that it does not go into effect by the end of this year.
A most effective declaration on the subject appears in
the German Tribune, a West German weekly newspaper
published in Hamburg. Reprinting in English translation
an article by Peter Bender which appeared in the German
Vorwearts Feb. 15, the article declares, in the comments on
the Statute of Limitations:
A change of heart would not be a matter of
opportunism. It would, perhaps, result from a
realization that times have changed in West Ger-
A single TV blockbuster cannot change a coun-
try but it may give the last nudge to a change that
was already in the offing, and that is what seems
to have happened.
Had Holocaust been screened 15 years ago on
West German TV it would, of course, have created
a stir but it might not have upset the entire view-
ing public to the extent it did a few weeks ago.
Fifteen years ago, we can but conclude, people
in West Germany were just not ready for the
Holocaust message.
The German ability to conveniently forget
about the past is a much-lamented fact. In retros-
pect it is probably only natural, for most people,
that is.
Everyone needs time to come to terms with seri-
ous damage, and a nation's traumatic experiences
survive in the collective memory longer than
might be imagined.

This is no excuse, but it does help to explain the
phenomenon. The ability to mourn would appear;
always to be the exception, not the rule, just as
heroes and martyrs are exceptional.
A new generation and the passage of time have
enabled the country to look its past straight in the
face, or so it seems, and if this is true, the time has
come to look at more of the past eyeball-to-
Members of the Bundestag must surely be able
to count on public understanding and support for
now changing their minds in relation to what they
went on record as advocating 10 or 15 years ago.
In the meantime something else has changed
too: our relations with other countries. West Ger-
many has grown much more powerful, with the
result that neighbors are keeping an even closer
eye on us.
The other side of the coin is more satisfactory.
We are now in a better position to take this anxiety
into account because we are more powerful and
We no longer need submit to outside pressure.
From inner conviction we can reach the same
conclusion as our neighbors: that the unique na-
ture of Nazi crimes calls for a unique gesture.
Time is of the essence. Action on the existing statute
must be taken very soon and a decision may be reached by
next month.
Therefore, the viewpoint of a German writer is impor-
tant, and the action taken by the U.S. House of Representa-
tives is significant.
Those who act in the matter now are rendering an
important service as an assurance of an urgency not to
silence the crimes.

`Biz H undert un Zwanzig:
Sholem Aleichem Anniversary

When Sholem Aleichem died 63 years ago, an interest-
ing practice was established in adherence to his will. His
friends and admirers were to get together on the anniver-
sary of his death to read from his humorous stories.
At the YIVO headquarters in New York, the 120th
anniversary of the great humorist's birth was marked.
Sholem Aleichem is a name per-
petuated in literary history and is a
reminder of creativity in Yiddish. Now
his stories lend equal effect upon
readers in the many languages into
which he was translated.
While the very mention of his name
recalls the repartee in a conversation
he had with Mark Twain in 1912,
when he arrived in this country, his
humor, stemming from the Shtetl,
has a universal tone. It was when
Mark Twain complimented the Yid-
dish writer by saying he was the
"American Sholem Aleichem," the
Yiddish humorist-satirist responded
with "I am the Yiddish Mark Twain."
For • Yiddishists, the 120th anniversary of SholPm
Aleichem's birth could be an occasion for revivalism.
not fulfill the wishes of Shalom Rabinovitz, who beca.—
famous under the pen name Sholem Aleichem, by gather-
ing to read his stories — in Yiddish?
Sholem Aleichem asked for
it and he would have loved it
even more than the knowledge
that "Fiddler on the Roof' gave
his name the distinction of
having a play based on a theme
from his writings having at-
tained the longest run of any
theater production in history.
His granddaughter Bel
Kaufman may have contrib-
uted more than any other per-
son in retaining glory for his
writings and his personality.
What an attraction she is for
any gathering giving renewed
stature to the Sholem
Al zichem tradition!


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