Ottawa (Oct. 20)
Efforts by Canadian rabbis to present a petition to visiting Soviet Premier Aleksei N. Kosygin failed yesterday when the police revoked a permit for a march past the Soviet Embassy by the 12,000 Canadian Jews massed here to protest the treatment of Jews in the USSR. The police have been taking extra security precautions since the assaulting of Kosygin on Monday by a Hungarian refugee.
Before yesterday’s three-hour march through this capital’s downtown area, Rabbi Gunther Plaut of Toronto told the crowd: “We are not a bomb-throwing group, but I want everyone to know that we are a militant group. There was a time when we pleaded and begged. That time is gone. We stand up to demand justice. No pleading, no begging–we demand justice.” Rabbi Plaut is national chairman of the Canadian Jewish Congress’ Religious Affairs Committee. Political circles reported that Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, who had discouraged violence by the demonstrators, was highly pleased with their discipline. It was also reported that the march was orderly without enforcement by the police.
The petition addressed to Kosygin was drafted by the Conference of Canadian Rabbis representing the rabbis of Canada. The main thrust of the petition was a plea to allow Soviet Jews to practice their religion and live by their culture and traditions and transmit them to their children. The petition also asked “with utmost urgency that the dreadful disease of anti-Semitism…not be allowed to sail under any guise, especially not under the guise of anti-Zionism.”
The rabbis’ petition also urged Kosygin to “let the tens of thousands of Jews who have already applied for immigration to Israel go and let them go without harassment or degradation. We ask that you open your borders to those who will yet apply.” The petition stressed that the rabbis were not asking for Jews “to be treated differently from others. We ask only for fair and equitable treatment – for justice.”