NEW YORK (May. 25)
Prof. Mikhail Zand, the Russian Jewish linguist trying to emigrate to Israel, was told by Soviet authorities that his exit visa has been postponed for “an indefinite time” when he visited the Moscow visa office last Friday for the third time in a week, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency learned today. The information came from Prof. Herbert Paper of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor who spoke to Zand by telephone for 35 minutes Friday. Zand and his family were granted exit permits on May 16 after months of waiting. But the visa was revoked on the same day pending an investigation of alleged “undesirable activities” by Zand. He was told to come back to the visa office the following Tuesday. When he showed up he was put off again until last Friday. He then had his telephone conversation with Prof. Paper, an old friend and colleague. Zand, who specializes in Oriental languages and literature, has many friends in the American academic community. More than 200 Southern California professors cabled Kremlin leaders last week to permit the Zand family to emigrate. They were joined by Senators Alan Cranston, of California, Jacob Javits of New York and Robert Griffin of Michigan who wired U.S. Ambassador Jacob Beam in Moscow asking him to intercede on behalf of the Zands.
Sources in Los Angeles reported today that Zand formally requested Israeli citizenship last week after hearing a report on the Voice of Israel broadcast that the Knesset passed an amendment to the immigration laws permitting the Interior Minister to confer Israeli citizenship in absentia on any Jew who wants it and is prevented from coming to Israel. Prof. Paper, who teaches languages at Ann Arbor, has urged the academic world to speak out in behalf of Zand. In a letter published in the Washington Post yesterday he said: “Can we scholars and colleagues rest while this miscarriage of justice is carried out and while this most talented student of languages and literature is converted to a political pariah? I call on my colleagues everywhere to protest in the strongest terms through news media and privately to any and all official Soviet representatives that their continued policy of harassing dissenting scholars and writers is beneath contempt.” The charge of “undesirable activities” against Zand is believed to stem from conversations he had with Western newsmen.