JERUSALEM (Jun. 30)
Prof. Mikhail Zand believes the struggle for Soviet Jewry must concentrate exclusively on their right to emigrate to Israel, not merely to alleviate the current repression of Jewish cultural and religious freedom in the USSR. In his first public appearance since he landed in Israel five days ago. Zand, a militant Jew, claimed that the only hope for the spiritual survival of Soviet Jewry was in emigration to Israel. Addressing a session of the Zionist General Council, Zand said he took issue with a group of Western rabbis who had suggested the slogan “Let my people live” as a corollary of “Let my people go.” He rejected the implications of the former on grounds that the Jewish people could never live as Jews in the Soviet Union, “There is no future for the Jewish people in Russia except assimilation. The future is only here. The fight must be for the right to emigrate, not the right to stay there.”
Zand, a scholar specializing in Oriental languages, obtained the right to emigrate only after considerable anguish and hardship for himself and his family. Earlier this year his activism got him a 16-day jail term for “hooliganism” in connection with demonstrations against the Leningrad and Riga trials. He was fired from his job at the Soviet Eastern Institute. He was granted an exit visa earlier this month only to have it revoked within a few hours on grounds that he had to be investigated for alleged “undesirable activities.” His new visa was finally granted only after pressure was brought to bear by the academic communities in the U.S., Israel and other countries. Zand told the Zionist General Council that he and his family were escorted to Moscow airport by 100 friends who asked that he convey their greetings to Israel. He said Russian Jews thanked Jews abroad for their efforts to secure emigration rights. Prof. Zand has joined the teaching staff of Hebrew University as a visiting professor in the Institute of Asian and African studies, the university announced today. He will teach in Hebrew.