WASHINGTON (Mar. 21)
More than 3,000 persons poured into this city for a mass rally on behalf of Soviet Jewry which ended late this afternoon with the arrest of Rabbi Meir Kahane, national chairman of the Jewish Defense League and 200 adult and teenage demonstrators. They were charged with violating District of Columbia traffic regulations when they staged a sit-down only a block from the Soviet Embassy and ignored police warnings to clear the area. Rabbi Kahane, the first to be arrested, was led into one of the dozen transit buses mobilized in the area to cart off demonstrators, and shouted out the window “Get more buses!” The crowd picked up the chant while parade marshalls simultaneously commanded the protestors to “get police badge numbers.” Earlier in the day, as demonstrators began gathering in the marshalling area, JDL members engaged in a scuffle with four men sporting Nazi regales. The men, bearing signs indicating Nazi philosophy and charging Jews with being “communists” approached the throng tauntingly. They were beaten by JDL members and were last seen fleeing the area.
Addressing the rally, in addition to Rabbi Kahane, were a dozen speakers including two members of the Italian-American Civil Rights League, who expressed their solidarity with the demonstrators and disclosed that 60 members of their organization were present at the meeting. David Solomon, a black Jew from New York, received waves of applause, when he told the rally “We are all of the same family, and for this – our house – I will die.” Yosef Schneider, the 24-year-old Soviet emigre to Israel who is continuing his seven-day-old hunger strike, left his “prisoner’s cage” outside the White House to tell the crowd in Hebrew his permit to demonstrate ends at midnight but that he would continue his hunger strike as he was “prepared to be arrested on behalf of Soviet Jewry.”
In his address, Rabbi Kahane urged the demonstrators “not to engage in violence nor resist arrest. If a policeman touches you, stand up and go with him, and tomorrow morning the papers will say, ‘5,000 Jews got arrested for Soviet Jewry.’ ” Speaking to President Nixon through his address to the rally, Rabbi Kahane said “We respect and honor our country and President. It is important that you understand our bitterness, frustration, anger and determination.” He added “We are here to do something about it.” The demonstrators appeared to be mostly young men and women sporting buttons and bearing placards that read “No more deceptive tokenism”; “Another Zionist Hooligan for Soviet Jewry”; “Never Again”; and “Freedom Now.” Both yarmulke youths and long-haired hippie types were among the protestors who thronged in the Elipse which was heavily guarded by mounted police, the Washington Executive Police and the Metropolitan Washington Police. Officers on motorcycles could be seen continually whizzing by in a flurry of patrol activity, while two busloads of police stood in the Treasury Wing opposite the White House grounds.