Statement on the International Day of Concern for Soviet Jews

March 15, 1984

Today is the International Day of Concern for Soviet Jews. It marks the seventh anniversary of the arrest of Anatoly Shcharanskiy for his activities on behalf of human rights in the Soviet Union. His courage and determination to stand up for those rights have earned him the respect and admiration of countless people worldwide. But he would not want this day to be dedicated solely to him. Rather it is a day when men and women of good will reflect on all the aspects of the situation of Jewry in the U.S.S.R. That situation has deteriorated over the past year. Jewish emigration from the Soviet Union has fallen to its lowest levels since the late 1960's; officially tolerated anti-Semitism manifesting itself in broadcasts, articles, and the widely publicized formation of an ``Anti-Zionist Committee of the Soviet Public'' has increased; and individual refuseniks continue to be subjected to harassment.

All in all, this is a grim picture. But we will not be disheartened. Soviet Jews value the support of concerned individuals and organizations all over the world. In our country this support reflects the broad, grassroots concern which abuse of human rights elicits in the American public. Outrage where human rights are violated is one of the best American traditions. I endorse the International Day of Concern and the goals for which it stands.

The United States Government shares these goals. It has actively supported the right of Soviet Jews to practice their cultural traditions freely and to emigrate from the U.S.S.R. if they so choose. This point has been emphasized to the Soviet authorities in many fora and at all levels; it has been conveyed to the new Soviet leadership. It is our sincere hope that the Soviets will ease their repressive human rights policies and fulfill the solemn international obligations they have undertaken, including their commitment under the Helsinki accords. In our dialog with the Soviet authorities, we have no higher priority. Those who care about the fate of Soviet Jews should know that we are with them today and will be with them tomorrow.