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April 04, 1986 - Image 29

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-04-04

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

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,

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ANALYSIS

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Soviet Jewry
Debate Needed

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BY DAVID A. HARRIS

Designs That Fit

Special To The Jewish News

It is a widely,held view that the
fate of Soviet Jewry is, to a consid-
erable degree, linked, to the state
of Soviet-American bilateral rela-
tions. While other factors may
play a significant role, specifically
Soviet domestic considerations —
ideological, economic, national
(ethnic) — and, to a potentially
very important extent, the Krem-
lin's Middle East policy, it has al-
ways been in the realm of the
superpower relationship that our
greatest hopes for the redemption
of hundreds of thousands of Soviet
Jews seeking to emigrate to Israel
and to reunite with their families
have rested.
If, indeed, Jewish emigration is
linked to the ebb and flow of
Soviet-American relations, this
certainly helps explain the pre-
cipitous decline in the average
monthly rate of departures from
more than 4,000 in 1979 to less
than 100 in 1985. Relations
plummeted for reasons that are by
now well-known: Soviet proxy ex-
pansion in Africa and elsewhere
in the Third World, the Soviet in-
vasion of Afghanistan, repression
in Poland, and, from the Soviet
viewpoint, the Senate refusal to
ratify the SALT-II Treaty, the
granting of most-favored-nation
trade status to China but not to
the USSR, the imposition of sanc-
tions, the anti-Soviet rhetoric of
Presdient Reagan, etc.
Were Soviet Jews made hos-
tages to that superpower relation-
ship, rendered pawns in a ruthless
Soviet geopolitical strategy? A
very good 'case can certainly be
made for it.
Does it necessarily follow, how-
ever, that in a perod of ascending,
or improving bilateral ties the
condition of Soviet Jewry will
ease and the rate of emigration
increase? It is a difficult question
to answer,' but one we can ill af-
ford to ignore.
What was all but missing in the
early 1980s was a proper
framework for regular high-level
• dialogue between Washington
and Moscow. Meetings between
the American secretary of state
and Soviet foreign minister were
held infrequently and against a
backdrop of mutual suspicion and
distrust. Tod4y, though, one of the
critical ingredients in any likely
formula for success, namely, a
process for regular, high-level
meetings, is in place. This will in-
clude, of course, at least two addi-
tional summits and, of necessity,
dozens of other meetings of offi-
cials both to plan the summits
themselves and to focus on the
various regional, economic, bilat-
eral, in addition to ongoing
strategy, issues facing our two .
countries.
Such dialogue is a necessary,
though insufficient, condition for
resolution of the Soviet Jewry
problem; it must, at the very least,
be seen as a significant step for-
ward, hence an important oppor-
tunity for us all.

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29

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