NEW YORK (Feb. 23)
The National Conference on Soviet Jewry has learned of rumors circulating in Moscow that sometime last month–the exact date is unknown–several Jews and Russians met to create “The People’s Liberation Movement of Jews in the Soviet Union.” According to the NCSJ, Moscow Jews have expressed their fear and suspicion that these rumors are a provocation by Soviet security organs who may be preparing the background for a new campaign of arrests and trials of Jewish activists in the Soviet Union, especially those who want to go to Israel.
Jerry Goodman, executive director of the NCSJ said that “there is reason to suspect, if reports from Soviet Jews are accurate, that this new move is really a provocation by Soviet authorities. What the Jews in the Soviet Union fear is that the so-called ‘movement’ will be a creation by the Soviets themselves to be used against Jews who have been trying to leave the Soviet Union legally,” he observed.
“The suspicion now is that an organization, obviously illegal, will give the secret police (KGB) an excuse for moving against and arresting Jews for eventual trial in order to destroy the Jewish activists and the movement for emigration.” This suspicion, Goodman added, is strengthened in the wake of recent police actions against Jews throughout the Soviet Union.
JEWS STRUGGLE OPENLY, LEGALLY
In Kiev, four Jews were tried and sentenced to 15 days in prison for alleged “hooliganism” when, together with about 60 young Jews, they tried to enter a synagogue on Feb. 19. There have been other recent instances of police actions against Jews at the synagogues in Kharkov and in Sverdlovsk. Furthermore, in recent days, several ovir offices around the country have reportedly denied exit permits for Jews who were qualified to leave.
Goodman pointed out that “the Jews in the Soviet Union have, in the past two years, been struggling defiantly and boldly, but it has always been in the open and, therefore, legal. All the petition seekers were acting legally under Soviet law. They themselves have denounced illegal activities.”