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Anti-Semitism in Soviet Union

February 25, 1990

I agree with Prof. Steven Spiegel's assessment of the critical situation of Jews in the Soviet Union (Op-Ed Page, Feb. 5). I receive, almost on a daily basis, anti-Semitic leaflets that are distributed in the Soviet Union calling for pogroms and the "cleansing of Mother Russia from the Jewish peril." The population is being informed that May 5 has been designated as the day for a major pogrom in Moscow and May 15 in Leningrad.

Letters and phone calls from Soviet Jews speak of panic and a mood of despair; there is a feeling that the question is no longer whether Jews will be killed, but rather when.

Spiegel's suggestions for the facilitation of Jewish emigration to Israel are good ones, but they do not go far enough. The changes in emigration laws enacted by the U.S. last October have decreased the number of Jewish immigrants and have instituted procedures that prolong the process. Initial applications by Soviet Jews with close U.S. relatives are processed in Virginia--a procedure that takes 4 to 8 months. The approved applicants are then told to arrange an appointment for an interview at the U.S. embassy in Moscow where six U.S. officials conduct the interviews that sometimes last as long as an hour each. As a result, the 50-100 people at best that can be seen each day do not even put a dent in the backlog of over 100,000 applicants. The wait for a U.S. visa lasts many months and even years.

In order to avoid the repeat of what happened in Germany in the 1930s the visa process must be streamlined and improved, outside help in the processing must be accepted, and U.S. pressure on friendly governments--Canada, New Zealand, Australia and others--must be exerted to urge them to accept even a small number of the Jews who are facing an uncertain future in the Soviet Union.

SI FRUMKIN

Chairman, Southern California

Council for Soviet Jews

Studio City

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