WASHINGTON (Sep. 24)
A New York Catholic coed joined last night with a score of representatives of the Jewish Community Council in a demonstration on behalf of Soviet Jewry at the opening of a two-night stand here by the Soviet Union’s Moiseyev dance company. Similar protests have been staged under Jewish sponsorship in other cities where the Moiseyev troupe has appeared and are planned for future appearances in other cities of the current U.S. tour.
The community council members, led by president Seymour Wolf, made their protest in the form of a welcome to the dance troupe coupled with a reminder to audience members that the country represented by the dancers was oppressing an element of its people. The approach was contained in a leaflet which was distributed to audience members and passersby by community council members and by Marilyn Coonelly of Suffern, N.Y., a sociology major at the American University. The leaflet stressed that the patrons were seeing a freedom of cultural expression that was “denied by the Soviet authorities” to the three million Jews in the Soviet Union. The leaflets urged readers to write or telephone the Soviet ambassador here in protest of the Soviet government’s violations of “human rights” of its citizens.
Miss Coonelly, asked why she was participating in the protest, replied “I am interested in people and hate to see them oppressed anywhere. The Russians won’t let the Jewish people stand up for what they believe in and for what they feel.” The community council limited its demonstration to distribution of the leaflets but three women and four men students at local universities briefly disrupted the playing of the Soviet national anthem at the start of the ballet performance. They were identified as members of the Washington Committee for the Prevention of Genocide and said they were protesting the Soviet repression of Jews. They were led from the hall and no arrests were made. Most of the patrons reacted with annoyance to the brief disruption with cries of “throw them out” but there was some scattered applause for the students.
Mr. Wolf was asked, before the incident occurred, whether the council planned any action inside the hall. He said the council’s protest would consist entirely of distribution of the leaflets and that a similar distribution would take place at the second Moiseyev performance here. Also signifying opposition to Soviet policies at the hall were three members of the Ukrainian Liberation Front. They distributed copies of a press release declaring that they were acting on behalf of “the thousands of innocent Ukrainian artists, writers, professors, students, journalists and scientists who have been subjected to mass arrests, secret trials, illegal and harsh sentences and incarcerations by the Russian Communist government.” One of the trio identified himself as Volodynrio Majewsky of Arlington, Va., who said he was an employee of the U.S. Patent Office. He said his group had joined in protest actions with Jewish organizations previously, mentioning a protest two years ago at the Washington Monument against persecution of Jews in the Soviet Union.