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December 18, 1987 - Image 32

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-12-18

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

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32

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 18, 1987

Soviet Jewry Activists Voice
Frustration Following Summit

JAMES DAVID BESSER

Washington Correspondent

W

ashington — After
the euphoria of
Freedom Sunday,
Soviet Jewry activists in
Washington are fighting a
sense of letdown as the details
of meetings between top U.S.
and Soviet officials slowly
come to the surface.
Despite progress on most of
the issues discussed at the
Reagan-Gorbachev summit
and the signing of a land-
mark I.N.F. treaty, the Soviet
leader resisted administra-
tion pressure on the human
rights agenda.
In an official statement,
Morris Abram, president of
the Conference of Presidents
of Major American Jewish
organizations and of the Na-
tional Conference on Soviet
Jewry (NCSJ), expressed
some of the frustration that
pervades the movement. "We
are deeply concerned by
reports that Mr. Gorbachev is
tired of hearing about human
rights and Jewish emigra-
tion," Abram said. "Mr. Gor-
bachev is reported to have
said to the press, 'you are not
the prosecutor and I am not
the accused.' Mr. Gorbachev
• has it wrong; the Soviet
Union gave the international
community the right to judge
its compliance with its inter-
national human rights agree-
ments. Mr. Gorbachev must
know that only a policy of
adherence to these human
rights agreements will lead to
true normalization of rela-
tions."
The problem of a post-
Summit letdown has been
intensified by the rumors cir-
culating in Washington dur-
ing the historic meetings.
"There's no doubt many peo-
ple were expecting something
pretty dramatic to happen,"
said a Soviet Jewry expert on
the Hill. "A lot of us were sur-
prised at just how resistant
Mr. Gorbachev proved to be —
and at how this resistance
was generally overlooked by
the media here."
Mark Levin, Washington
representative for the NCSJ,
expressed satisfaction that
the Mobilization was suc-
cessful. "We didn't expect a
significant breakthrough,"
Levin said. "But the issue
was raised at every level, and
the reaction from the General
Secretary was what we ex-
pected; whenever human
rights were brought up, it
made him angry. I'm glad he

Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan sign the INF treaty in
Washington Dec. 8.

got angry; Gorbachev has to
know now that this is an
issue he can't put aside or res-
pond to with pro-forma
answers. The fact that he
reacted emotionally means
that there WAS an impact."
Levin's sentiments were
echoed by David Harris of the
American Jewish Committee,
who coordinated the enor-
mous gathering on the day
before Gorbachev's arrival.
"Certainly there is some
disappointment," he said. "At
the same time, I think most
observers recognize that there
are no quick-fix solutions.
The process is an incremental
one."
According to Harris, some
progress was made in dealing
with the cases of individual
refuseniks, and on clarifying
bilateral mechanisms for
reviewing cases. "But on the
underlying questions of pro-
cess and procedure, the things
that might lead to substantial
and sustained emigration,
Gorbachev's hostility showed
in abundance."
Despite the success of the
Mobilization, Harris insisted
that the Summit was a
"sobering reminder of the
limits of Glasnost and the
dangers of wholesale infatua-
tion with the new Soviet
leadership?'

Micah Naftalin, Washing-
ton representative of the
Union of Councils for Soviet
Jews, suggested that the Ad-
ministration was never pre-
pared to engage in hard
bargaining on the issue of
Soviet Jewry. "What we're
saying is that there's a big dif-
ference between raising the
issue, which they did wonder-
fully, and negotiating, which
they didn't do at all. The
message that the Soviets got
was this: despite the rhetoric

-

about human rights, the
United States government
doesn't really mean it."
As proof, Naftalin cited the
controversial meeting be-
tween a group of U.S. business
leaders and Soviet officials, a
meeting organized by
Secretary of Commerce
William Verity. "That
meeting took place in the
absence of any linkage to the
human rights issue," he said.
He also revealed that as a
result of protests, represen-
tatives of the Union of Coun-
cils have been invited to brief
Verity before the secretary's
planned trip to Moscow in
March. According to Naftalin,
the group will use that brief-
ing to urge a tougher ap-
proach to the linkage between
trade concessions and human
rights improvements.
He also suggested that the
Union of Councils would
modify its approach in deal-
ing with Soviet human rights
abuses. "The Administration
is not yet convinced that they
have to start bargaining. So
we're moving in on issues
that don't require their ac-
tion. The untied loans issue —
the billions of dollars from
private banks going to the
Soviet Union — will become
the Jackson-Vanik of the next
decade. We can go at this in
a variety of ways to make it
intolerable for the banks to
give this money to the
Soviets."

Getting Stranger
And Stranger

The effort to shut down the
New York information office
of the Palestine Liberation
Organization gets stranger
and stranger as it inches its
way through Congress.
Last week, the amendment
to go beyond an earlier State
Department ruling closing

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