Kean Hopes To Organize Demonstration On Behalf Of Soviet Jews
WASHINGTON (AP) _ New Jersey Gov. Thomas Kean said Monday he hopes to organize other governors in a nationwide demonstration on behalf of Soviet Jews to coincide with a U.S.-Soviet summit.
Kean, speaking to the National Conference on Soviet Jewry, said efforts to help dissident Jews should linked to any other issue, including nuclear disarmament, discussed by President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
Kean said he believes he’ll have no trouble getting governors and some members of the Senate to join in a ″totally peaceful, totally legal″ event on behalf of Soviet Jews.
A face-to-face meeting between Reagan and Gorbachev is being discussed. The talks would be aimed at formalizing a suggested medium-range weapons pact.
Kean suggested that a governors’ demonstration might take the form of a moment of silence in all 50 states, or symbolic acts by state legislatures.
″What we’re talking about is a national effort,″ Kean said.
The idea, he said, would be ″to show the Soviet leadership that we were concerned as a nation with this.″
″If we believe in what we say, then we have to act,″ the Republican governor said.
Kean said he already has Reagan’s pledge to press Gorbachev for loosened restrictions on the so-called ″refuseniks,″ people who have been refused permission to emigrate.
″I have no doubt about the president’s commitment,″ Kean said.
He called emigration rights for Soviet Jews, as well as improved human rights for them while they are in the Soviet Union, a ″litmus test″ of Soviet good intentions.
″For us, it is our highest priority,″ he said.
Before his remarks, Kean met refuseniks Boris and Elena Klotz, whom the governor had ″adopted″ four years ago. Kean served as advocate for them in their attempts to emigrate from Moscow.
Kean said he tried repeatedly via letters and telephone calls to win freedom for the couple. Earlier this year, the Klotzs were granted permission to move to Israel, where they now live.
Kean said he was overcome by emotion in his first face-to-face meeting with the couple. ″My insides took a little settling,″ he said.
Klotz praised Kean’s help. The Moscow University-educated mathematician called his exodus to Israel ″a bewildering, wonderful experience of a heritage lost and a heritage regained.″
At Klotz’s request, Kean agreed to assume sponsorship of two more Moscow refuseniks. They are Pavel Abormovich, the father of the refusenik movement, and Viktor Fulmakht, another critic of the Soviet government.
After Kean spoke, about 200 people from the Soviet Jewry conference held a peaceful vigil across the street from the Soviet Embassy.