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May 05, 1989 - Image 32

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-05-05

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

411111•11=111111111

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INSIDE WASHINGTON

American Jews Are Target
Of RR. Campaign By Soviets

JAMES D. BESSER

Washington Correspondent

T

he Soviet embassy in
Washington has em-
barked on an un-
precedented effort to reach out
to the American Jewish
community.
The embassy's point man in
this outreach is Oleg Derkov-
sky, a political counsel and
specialist in Middle Eastern
and Asian affairs. In recent
months, Derkovsky has
sought out a number of
Jewish leaders in an effort to
bolster his country's quest for
a role in the Middle East
peace process.
Jewish groups, he reported,
have responded well to his
overtures.
"I find that there is a deep
interest in the process of
change in my country," he
said. "They want to know
what perestroika is all about,
and about specific changes in
my country with respect to
emigration and the status of
the U.S.-Soviet relationship.
They want to understand the
nuances of Soviet policy,
especially in the Middle East."
Derkovsky lamented the
high-tech arms race in the
region, but admitted that his
own country has contributed
to the problem. And he
reacted with irritation to a
question about the role of the
Soviet Union in supplying
arms to nations that support
terrorism.
"I see an unhealthy pro-
paganda campaign," he said.
"There is a stereotypical no-
tion that the USSR supports
terrorism. The Soviet Union is
a member of the international
community; we never sup-
ported terrorism. What we
supported were the legitimate
struggles of people for their
liberation."
Derkovsky downplayed the
significance of Pamyat, the na-
tionalist, anti-Semitic group
that has flourished in the era
of glasnost.
"I read the same informa-
tion [about Pamyat], and I re-
sent very much the ideas that
these people express about
racial bigotry and hatred," he
said. "But we are a varied na-
tion, we are a family of
peoples, including the Jewish
community. We take pride
that since the October revolu-
tion, anti-Semitism has been
eradicated. There are still
traces; there are people who
still perceive discrimination.
It is a very delicate process;
you know from your own coun-

try that you can't eliminate
the extremes. So we are at-
tempting to establish our own
system of checks and
balances."
Generally, Jewish activists
here express a cautious in-
terest in Derkovsky's message,
while praising his style. "He's
good," said a prominent
Jewish activist who has met
with Derkovsky. "He speaks
an idiom Americans unders-
tand. Still, I think it is unclear
how much of what he's saying
has really become part of
Soviet policy, and how much is
public relations. Still, just the
fact that he is talking to us is
a fascinating change."

Lantos Pushes
For Monument
To Wallenberg

Rep. Tom Lantos, (D-Calif.),
is a man who understands
persistence.
Last year, Lantos led an un-
successful bid to approve a
monument to Raoul Wal-
lenberg, the Swedish diplomat
who saved thousands of Jews

Raoul Wallenberg:
Still without D.C. monument.

from Hitler's killing machine.
Now, Lantos is trying again.
The California legislator
recently introduced another
Wallenberg monument
measure, backed up by some
100 co-sponsors. Sen.
Claiborne Pell, (D-R.I.), is
again expected to offer a com-
panion bill.
"The only significant pro-
blem is the requirement that
a person being honored by a
monument be dead for 25
years," said a spokesman for
Lantos. "The bill waives that
provision; it's an issue of con
cern that Wallenberg coulc
still be alive. But nobody
would deny that this is a per-
son with lasting historical
significance."

If approved in Congress, the
monument, which will be
erected across the street from
the Holocaust Museum, must
still pass muster with the Na-
tional Park Service, the Na-
tional Capital Planning Com-
mission and the D.C.
government.

Jewish Fund
For Justice
Abandons D.C.

At a time when more and
more Jewish groups are shif-
ting their focus from New
York to Washington the
Jewish Fund for Justice is
about to migrate in the op-
posite direction.
The 5-year-old organization
that funds a variety of social
justice programs will official-
ly close its Washington office
sometime in August, two
months after the installation
of its new director, Marlene
Provizer, currently the deputy
director of national affairs for
the American Jewish
Committee.
There are several reasons for
the move, according to JFJ
chairman Lawrence S. Levine
"First, we have a high level of
activity of some of the New
York members of the group.
And moving to New York will
provide access to greater
sources of funding. Finally, we
unanimously agreed that
Marlene was the outstanding
candidate. And she was only
available if she could work out
of New York."
Initially, the group con-
sidered keeping the
Washington office open as a
satellite operation, but re-
jected the idea for financial
reasons. As a result, the five
Washington staffers are look-
ing for new jobs.

D.C. Talking
About Jackson
For Mayor

The recent speculation
about a District of Columbia
mayoral bid by Rev. Jesse
Jackson was like a chunk of
raw meat to the voracious
political community here.
But according to the private
estimates of some Jewish ac-
tivists, the flurry of rumors
are more red herring than
meat — the result of wishful
thinking by Democrats con-
cerned about the impact of
another Jackson presidential
race on the battered party.
A DC mayoral bid, accor-
ding to several political profes-
sionals, would solve several of

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