US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, was greeted in Moscow with appeals from Jews asking him to raise the emigration issue during his present talks.
Ostensibly Dr Kissinger’s visit to Moscow is to talk about American proposal at the strategic arms limitation talks (SALT) in Geneva. Arrangements for President Nixon’s planned visit to the Soviet Union in June is another important item on the agenda. However many Soviet Jews still believe that the Secretary of State will not create a hollow detente, ignoring the right of Soviet Jews to emigrate.
Six Jews from Novosibirsk recent wrote to Kissinger, asking him not to omit the question of Jewish emigration in a headlong sprint for detente. It is almost certain that the question of most favoured nation status – which the Soviets are seeking from the US – will be raised in talks Senator Henry Jackson (D-Wash) has sought to block a trade bill granting this status until Jews and other minority groups are granted free exit from the Soviet Union.
Jackson, according to reports in the London Guardian, is refusing to dilute his amendment to the bill unless “he secures firm undertakings from the Russians to step up the flow of Jewish emigration from the present level of around 30,000 a year to a figure at least treble that size and that meanwhile all harassment of Soviet Jewry must be ended.”
During the past couple of months emigration figures have been down considerably. In addition harassment of individuals, such as the disconnection of telephone lines, has multiplied. Refusals on exit visas have increased. Scientists such as Grigory Rosenshtein and Leonid Byelopolsky have been turned down on their first application.
Moreover application procedures have been drawn out to discourage and frighten people. In Moscow and Kiev, documents for departure to Israel must be handed at militia stations rather than at the usual emigration offices. In Kishinev the number of clerks dealing with applications has been reduced drastically, thus causing a backlog of hundreds of potential emigrants .Intensification of bureaucratic procedures is another notable feature. Officials demand ratification of divorce documents or ask that particulars on forms be typed instead of handwritten. Jews in Moscow and Leningrad have complained that they have not received expected invitations from Israel even though they were sent some time ago. It appears that mainly retired people who have asked for invitations have received them while active working people have not.
Military conscription is another weapon being used against young activists. In Moscow Yuli Vexler, Anatoly Shcharansk and Lev Kogan have all been served with call-up documents.
The Soviet press stepped up its anti-Zionist attacks in the four days prior to Dr Kissinger’s visit. The US Congress was accused of trying to wreck a possible Middle East settlement. In a broadcast last Saturday to North America, radio Moscow commented on ‘the Zionist lobby on Capitol Hill.” It said that with its representatives, such as Jackson, “this lobby is trying to wreck any possible steps by the Soviet Union and the US to bring about a settlement in the Middle East. But everyone now recognises that such a settlement cannot be attained without the Soviet Union.”
Jerusalem Post February 1974