JERUSALEM (Jan. 12)
The announcement in Moscow yesterday that 10 Israelis had been expelled for alleged espionage and “Zionist propaganda” activities was described here today as an amalgam of trite Soviet allegations designed to warn Soviet Jews to avoid all contacts with visiting Israelis or members of the Israeli Embassy in Moscow.
Political sources also indicated a belief that another objective of the report in Izvestia, the Soviet Government organ, was to discourage Russian Jews from seeking exit visas to reunite with members of families abroad. It was noted that the Izvestia story had been reprinted in a number of other Soviet newspapers.
The report asserted that seven Israelis had been deported for “espionage” activities and that three others were expelled after coming to the Soviet Union “in the guise of tourists” to spread “Zionist propaganda” in “connivance” with the Israeli Embassy. Izvestia did not report on when the alleged acts occurred.
The sources here said that a large number of Soviet Jews had sought to take advantage of an assurance from Premier Kosygin, made at a press conference in Paris on December 3, that the Soviet Union would not place barriers in the way of such Jewish emigration. Soviet Jews have also tried to contact foreign tourists to learn details of life abroad, the same sources stated.
A number of Israeli tourists mentioned in the Izvestia articles are either completely unknown to Israeli authorities here or are known to have been bcna fide tourists. The Israel Foreign Ministry released today a copy of the declaration made by the Israeli Embassy in Moscow declaring that the Izvestia report was completely groundless and lacking all basis in fact.