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Khenkin Says ‘wall of Silence’ Being Imposed on Soviet Jews

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Kiril Khenkin, a former leading Moscow activist and journalist who emigrated to Israel last Oct. and is now in the United States on a national speaking tour, told more than 100 students that a “wall of silence” was again being imposed on Soviet Jews. Addressing a New York area campus action conference at Beit Ephraim at Columbia University sponsored by the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry, Khenkin declared that “no one has to be under the illusion that things are getting better” for Jews in the Soviet Union who are seeking to emigrate. He described emigration as still “selective, restrictive and absolutely unfree.”

The switching of political charges to criminal charges, although “purely fabricated,” against Jewish activists has decreased Western protest to a “deafening silence,” he said. The disconnection of most phones of the active Jews might mean “the end” of the vital communication link to the free world, he observed. Khenkin also challenged the assertion that the Jackson Amendment endangered Soviet Jews. Without it, he said, they would be much worse off. His visit to New York is jointly sponsored by the SSSJ and the Long Island Committee for Soviet Jewry. His national tour is under the auspices of the Union of Councils for Soviet Jews.

During the all-day conference of action workshops and committee meetings last week, the students called for the countering of the new Soviet trade offensive now under way in this country by the 11-member Soviet trade delegation; called on large corporations to intervene on behalf of individual Soviet Jews and urged that pressure be exerted on key importers of Soviet produces; and urged greater efforts to enlist the aid of humanitarian and political groups on American campuses in the struggle for human rights in the USSR.

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