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Tekoah Gives Thant Letter from 531 Georgian Jews Saying Emigration Appeals Ignored

Israeli Ambassador Yosef Tekoah said today that he had presented Secretary General Thant with a letter signed by 531 Georgian Jews who charged that “repeated appeals” for his aid in their emigration “have so far not brought about any effective results.” Tekoah made the letter public after a half-hour meeting with Thant, in it, the 531 Jews–all of whom signed their names-challenged the official Soviet claim that Jewish life in the USSR was receding because of assimilation. That, they said, would be “national suicide” and “unacceptable” to Soviet Jews. Actually, they wrote Thant, they have been subjected to “unimaginable obstacles, judicial persecution, threats and intimidation” in their efforts to either live a Jewish life in the USSR or leave for Israel. The writers asked Thant to “understand the entire tragedy of our life,” act to prevent the “forcible detention” imposed on them in violation of international law, and put the whole situation of Soviet Jewry on the agenda of the upcoming General Assembly. Their motto, the Jews said, was “Israel or death.”