NEW YORK (Apr. 24)
"If President Nixon raises the question of Soviet Jewry at his summit conference in Moscow it will have more effect than demonstrations here (in the United States) and in the Soviet Union," Leonid Machlis declared today as he initiated a two-day hunger strike outside the US Mission to the United Nations, across the avenue from UN headquarters. More than demonstrations, Machlis told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, what is needed is for "leaders of the world and governments of the world" to tackle the problem.
Machlis, who will return to Israel next week after participating in the National Solidarity Day for Soviet Jewry, is protesting the refusal of the Soviet authorities to allow his 27-year-old twin brother, Vladimir, to leave for Israel to join the rest of the family. Vladimir Machlis has lost his civilian pilot’s job for seeking emigration, and is living without resources in Moscow, where he is subject to possible arrest for being unemployed. He is teaching Hebrew there surreptitiously.
Leonid Machlis, whose stay in this country is coordinated by the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry and the Greater New York Conference on Soviet Jewry, plans to maintain his vigil from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. today and tomorrow. He has already conferred with US Mission officials and, earlier, with Canadian Foreign Minister Mitchell Sharp in Toronto.
Wearing a sign reading "President Nixon–Help Free My Brother," Machlis told the JTA in Hebrew and English: "Only an outcry by people outside Russia can really help my brother. Young Jews in Russia did what they could–some very dangerous things. We have to do what we can." He warned that "If Jews forget about what happened in World War II there’s a good chance it will be repeated in Russia–another Holocaust." The basic point, he said, is that "Jews should be able to decide how they should live."