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Two Groups Charge Arrests of Jews, Raids, Pretext for Repressing Emigration Demands

Two American organizations working on behalf of Soviet Jewry today condemned the arrest of eight Jews in connection with an “alleged” Leningrad plane hijacking as a “pretext” for repressing emigration demands. Rabbi Herschel Schacter, chairman of the American Jewish Conference on Soviet Jewry, said the incident has been used “as a pretext for terrorizing and harassing Soviet Jews who are known to have petitioned the United Nations as well as Soviet authorities to leave for Israel.” One of the eight arrested, he said, “has had the audacity and courage to petition Soviet authorities on 32 separate occasions to leave for Israel.” The “only known ‘crime'” of the eight “seems to have been their desire to fulfill themselves as Jews, and not being able to do so in the Soviet Union.” The Conference on the Status of Soviet Jews called the arrests part of a “nationwide campaign of terrorization” against emigration, an “ominous decision” made at “a very high governmental and security police level.” The Conference declared: “We protest and condemn this Soviet outrage.” Protest demonstrations in front of Soviet embassies in New York, Philadelphia and several other cities are being planned.