Protests Mount Against Harassment of Israeli Athletes in Moscow

A move to prevent the 1980 Olympic Games from being held in the Soviet Union got under way here today as re-action mounted against the organized harassment of the Israeli team participating in the current world college student Olympics in Moscow.

The U.S. Committee Sports For Israel, the American arm of the Maccabiah Games, announced that it will approach all national U.S. Olympic committees to prevent the 1980 Olympics from going to Moscow. Rep. Edward Koch (D.NY) disclosed a letter he sent today to Phillip Krum, president of the U.S. Olympic Committee, and Lord Killanian, chairman of the International Olympic Committee, urging them to “reject any attempts by the USSR to become the 1980 host country.”

Haskell Cohen, former president of the U.S. Committee Sports for Israel and the Jewish Telegraphic Agency’s sports columnist, said the Committee voted unanimously last night to write strong letters denouncing the incidents in Moscow to the International Olympic Committee, the Federation of International Basketball Associations and the U.S. Basketball Federation.

CALLS FOR FULL INVESTIGATION

AI Duer, executive director of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, said that he would “recommend to the U.S. College Sports Council which is responsible for the U.S. team in Moscow to fully investigate the actions taken in Moscow, and to take such action as is necessary to assure that all nations in the university world games are treated with dignity and respect.”

Israeli athletes have been targets of abuse at three basketball games they played in Moscow and in other sports events. Russian soldiers who packed the arena at yesterday’s basketball game between Israel and Puerto Rico shouted “Zhyd” at the Israeli players and ripped two Israeli flags held up by Jewish spectators. Twenty Jews were attacked as they left the game and three were arrested.

Koch said in his letter that he had read with “distress” and “horror” reports of the hostile treatment given the Israeli sportsmen in Moscow. “The pogroms under the czars and under Stalin are well known and today’s events are but a continuation of its (Russia’s) prior history,” Koch wrote. “Therefore I would be shocked if the Soviet Union were successful in its attempts to obtain host country status for the 1980 Olympic Games.”

The Congressman told JTA that it was evident that Soviet authorities were going out of their way to be courteous to all of the teams participating in the college Olympics, except the Israeli team, in an effort to curry favor with, the Olympic Committee.

Cohen said the U.S. Committee Sports For Israel intended “to follow through and exert all possible pressure” to keep the 1980 Olympics out of Russia. He noted that many individual members of the Committee are members of individual U.S. Olympic committees. Cohen is a member of the U.S. Basketball Olympic Committee.

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