TEL AVIV (Aug. 18)
At least 25 Jews have been arrested in various parts of Russia in recent weeks, apparently because they signed letters, published abroad, appealing for aid to emigrate to Israel, it was claimed here today. The alleged arrests were reported by Avraham Harman, president of the Hebrew University, and S.Z. Abramoff, a Knesset member, who are co-chairmen of the Israel Council for Soviet Jewry. They said reports of Jews being arrested have come to the Council from the Caucasus, from Kishiviev, Kharkov and Leningrad since an alleged attempt to hijack a Soviet airliner at Leningrad Airport two months ago. The purported hijackers were described at the time as Russian dissidents, including several Jews who wanted to leave Russia. According to the Council for Soviet Jewry the arrests are part of a campaign of intimidation being waged by Soviet authorities against Jews who sign petitions or letters asking for exit visas to emigrate to Israel. Mr. Harman said that a Russian Jewry day would be observed on Sept. 20 as the occasion of a world-wide information campaign on the situation of Russian Jews.
Meanwhile, ten Jews in Kiev asked Premier Golda Meir to grant them Israeli citizenship in a letter made public here today. The letter, bearing ten signatures and street addresses, said the writers were applying for Israeli citizenship, though still in Russia, in order to “give you the right to defend our interests and to undertake any measures directed at our speediest departure for Israel.” Copies of the letter were sent to United Nations Secretary General U Thant, the World Jewish Congress, the International Organization of Concentration Camp Inmates and Resistance Fighters and the parliaments of countries that have ratified the UN’s convention on the abolition of racial discrimination. The letter writers claimed that they had submitted all necessary applications for emigration to Soviet authorities but were refused without explanation. They said they wanted to join relatives in Israel.