§ 11. Mr. Arnold Shaw
asked the Prime Minister what further representations are to be made following his discussions with Premier Kosygin on the treatment of Jews in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in line with the representations referred to in his answer of 13th February, 1967.
§ The Prime Minister
I spoke to Mr. Kosygin informally in January and I do not think there would be advantage in making further representations at present. For the information of the House I am circulating in the OFFICIAL REPORT a 153W copy of correspondence I exchanged on this subject with my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, North-West (Sir B. Janner).
Following is the information:
House of Commons,
1st February 1968.
You have been good enough on many occasions to see me personally to discuss the anxiety which prevails here regarding the serious situation of the Jewish Community in the Soviet Union. We also spoke of the possibilities of facilitating the re-union of victims of Nazi oppression and other distressed Jewish persons, at present residing in the Soviet Union, with their families in Israel and Britain.
When you were good enough to meet me again just before your visit to the Soviet Union. you told me that you would do your best to seek an opportunity to talk about these matters with Mr. Kosygin and other Soviet leaders.
A number of families have already been reunited through your personal intervention in past years, and they are very thankful to you.
I should be grateful if you could let me know the outcome of any approaches you were able to make in this matter on your recent visit.
The Rt. Hon. Harold Wilson, O.B.E., M.P.,
10, Downing Street,
10, Downing Street,
3rd February, 1968.
Thank you for your letter of 1st February.
I was able to discuss this matter with Mr. Kosygin and other Soviet leaders on my recent visit.
First, with regard to the points you made about the treatment of Jews in the Soviet Union and the provision of Jewish meat and Passover bread, and printing facilities for Jewish material, I have, as you say, raised these questions on previous visits. I did so again but there was no change in the Soviet position which is to regard Soviet Jews, exactly like other races or nationalities, as in every sense Soviet citizens. The leading position of a number of Soviet Jews in positions of high authority was of course instanced by the Russian leaders.
With regard to restrictions on emigration from the Soviet Union to Israel, I explained to you that this would be a difficult subject to press in the present tense situation in the Middle East. It became clear from my discussions with the Soviet leaders that the fears I expressed to you were justified and that there will be little hope of reconsideration at this time of this question.154W
With regard to individual cases involving the reuniting of families, as you say on previous occasions both before and since coming into Office I have taken up lists supplied to me by Jewish organisations in this country and a considerable number of Soviet citizens have been allowed to join their families. I arranged that this matter would continue to be dealt with through normal diplomatic channels, i.e. through our Ambassador discussing each individual case with the Soviet Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Thank you again for the very helpful discussions you have had with me on this subject. As we agreed, I am releasing these letters to the Press.
(Sgd.) HAROLD WILSON.
Sir Barnett Janner, M.P.