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Czech Kibbutz Becomes Haven for Non-jewish Czech Visitors to Israel

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“In June, 1967 we had letters from Czechoslovakia asking what they can do to help us when we stood with our backs to the wall. Today we ask them, what can we do to help them.” The feelings of thousands of Israelis were summed up in those words by Akiva Nir, secretary of Kibbutz Shomrat in Western Galilee which was founded by Czechoslovakian Jews and today found itself a haven for a group of non-Jewish Czechs visiting in Israel when Soviet troops invaded their homeland.

Their mood was one of shock, anger and bewilderment but clearly not despair as they attended a protest rally in front of the kibbutz dining hall. As one of the group, a woman Journalist put it, “I always had friendly feelings toward Israel, but now I understand her.” Another Czech observed that “Czechoslovakia and Israel are both small countries and both have to look out for themselves, though the situation in our country is much worse.” Beyond expressing hope that Justice would triumph in the end, there was little that the Czechs or their Israeli hosts could do. Tomorrow all Czech nationals in Israel will meet at Kfar Masaryk, another settlement of Czech-Jewish immigrants, to decide whether to stay in Israel or go home.

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