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November 08, 1985 - Image 78

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1985-11-08

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

78

Friday, November 8, 1985

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

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7

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Continued from preceding page

reports, it has learned that
Bronfman discussed with Krem-
lin leaders the entire spectrum
of issues affecting Soviet Jews;
recent arrests of Jewish ac-
tivists, increased emigration, di-
rect flights for Jews from Russia
to Israel, greater tolerance for
Jews' religious practices. It has
also been learned that shortly
after Bronfman's visit represen-
tatives from El Al, the official
Israeli airlines, journeyed to
Russia to discuss with Soviet
authorities the feasibility of di-
rect flights to Israel on El Al for
Soviet Jewish emigres. The idea
was nixed by the Russians.
About two weeks after his trip
to Russia, Bronfman met at the
UN with Polish Prime Minister
Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski. Five
days later, Poland and Israel
announced they would exchange
"interest sections" (a form of
low-level diplomatic recogni-
tion). Such an exchange, it is be-
lieved, could only be done with
the approval of the Soviet
Union.
Also in September, Gorbachev
said while on an official visit to
Paris that he would consider the
emigraion of certain Soviet
groups for the purposes of "fam-
ily reunification." Signatories to
the Helsinki Accords, which in-
clude the Soviet Union, agree
not to interfere with emigration
that would reunite families. Cri-
tics of Soviet policies have
charged that had Russia has
persistently violated this pro-
vision of the accords.
The rumor mill was given
new grist late last month when
Israeli Prime Minister Peres
discussed Soviet Jewish emigra-
tion with the Soviet Foreign
Minister at the UN and later
that same week with French
President Francois Mitterrand.
In public statements about these
meetings — statements whose
frankness surprised many dip-
lomats and officials working for
the release of Soviet Jews —
Peres said that Mitterrand had
offered to provide a direct airlift
for Jews from Russia to Israel.
Peres also said that increased
emigration would be acceptable
to the Russians "if we do not
lose any Jews along the way."
Peres was referring to the fre-
quent preference in the past of
Russian Jews to travel to the
U.S. or Western Europe rather
than to Israel once they left the
Soviet Union.
Veterans of the Soviet Jewry
movement cannot remember a
time when rumors about immi-
gration from Russia were so fast
and furious. or when hope was
so high. But they repeatedly
placed the current optimism
against the backdrop of interna-
tional politics. With the Geneva
summit 11 days away and the
vague beginnings of some kind
of Mideast peace talks taking
shape, the affected nations are
all jockeying for the best posi-
tion. Israel wants to get as
much as it can out of Russia be-
fore it agrees to let it sit down
at the Mideast negotiating ta-
ble. The U.S. wants to work out
a quid pro quo in exchange for
arms reduction. And the Soviet

Union and especially its new,
untried leader, Mikhail Gor-
bachev, wants to appear open,
tolerant and more humane.
But all the speculation and all
the gestures — everything from
the talk about thousands of
Jews leaving the Soviet Union
to Sakharov phoning his family
in Boston to his wife going there
for heart surgery — are largely

Israel Prime
Minister Shimon
Peres discussed
Soviet Jewish
emigration with the
Soviet Foreign
Minister at the UN.

smoke screens and PR coups.
Most everyone, including the
few who are lucky enough to se-
cure an exit visa, knows that.
As the head of one U.S. Soviet
Jewry group said of the decision
of Sakharov's wife, Yelena Bon-
ner, not to travel to the West for
medical treatment until late
November, "She's smart enough
not to leave the Soviet Union
before the summit. Then the
Russians could point to her and
say, 'See, we treat our Jews
well."'
Unfortunately, until visas are
issued by the thousands and not
handed out one by one, the case
of Yelena Bonner will be an
anomaly. The proof of a new
Russian attitude toward human
rights — a new attitude which
has been hinted at by the
Soviets and the Israelis and
even by some very tired and
maybe overly jaundiced Soviet
Jewish activists in the U.S. —
will. be evident when Soviet
Jews in the thousands board
outward bound planes, when
those who remain are allowed to
practice their religion as they
wish, and when Jews are not ar-
rested for teaching their culture
and their history and the He-
brew language. Until then, all
should be viewed with a healthy
cynicism tempered by an undy-
ing hope.

Peres Planning
Germany Visit

Bonn (JTA) — The projected
visit of Israeli Premier Shimon
Peres to Bonn at the beginning
of 1986 reflects steadily improv-
ing relations between Israel and
West Germany, according to
aides of Chancellor Helmut
Kohl. The West German leader
extended the invitation to Peres
during a recent meeting be-
tween the two leaders at UN
headquarters in New York.
Kohl's aides, trying to put be-
hind them Israeli irritation over
Bonn's vigorous condemnation of
the bombing of PLO headquar-
ters in Tunis, pointed to the
steady progress in contacts be-
tween the two nations since
Kohl took office in 1982.

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