NEW YORK (Sep. 5)
A host of legislators, including Ramsey Clark, a former U.S. Attorney General, joined with Jewish groups at the New York Stock Exchange yesterday for the beginning ceremonies of a three-day “Freedom Hunger Strike” on behalf of Soviet and Arab Jews. The aim of the fast, according to its organizers. is to “make it plain to the business community that the Jackson Amendment will soon be passed and it is in Wall Street’s self-interest to tell the Soviets to abide by minimal standards of human rights.”
The demonstration today focused on the arrest yesterday of Vitaly Rubin, a Soviet Jewish expert on China, on charges of “parasitism.” He was taken from his Moscow home by police and sent to a hospital because of a heart condition. He was dismissed from his academic post when he applied for a visa for Israel.
Malcolm Hoenlein, executive director of the Greater New York Conference on Soviet Jewry, one of the sponsoring organizations for the hunger strike, said that while “diplomats here and in the USSR continue to discuss detente and its relationship to Jewish emigration, the Soviets persist in their determination to terrify those Jews who desperately want to leave the USSR.”
Hoenlein said that Rubin was charged two months ago with treason for his activities but was not taken into custody then. He said Vitaly’s arrestment that Soviet authorities were determined to prevent Rubin, with his vast knowledge of China, from ever leaving the USSR.
WORKERS JOIN FASTERS
Some 20 young people have pledged to form the core of the hunger strike for the full three days, rain or shine. During the height of the strike more than 200 sympathizers, workers in the area and passers-by joined the strikers. Signs carried by the fasters, who will remain on the steps of the U.S. Treasury Building opposite the Stock Exchange, said, “Detente With Honor-Save Soviet Jews”; “Stop Arab Terror”; and “No Trade in Human Lives.”
New York State Attorney General Louis Lefkowitz, speaking to the Wall Street businessmen, declared that “we must reach out wherever we can to let people know how we feel about this problem.” Nassau County Executive Ralph Caso, who flew in by helicopter to attend the gathering, announced that he had invited Sylva Zalmanson to come to Long Island. Caso has been involved for several years in the now successful effort to achieve Miss Zalmanson’s release. Quoting in Hebrew the passage, “Justice, justice thou shall pursue,” Clark stated, “We have to speak out for justice and seel by our power, economically and morally, to bring this to all people.”
The hunger strike is co-sponsored by the Jewish Athletic Club of Brooklyn, the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry and other groups, and endorsed by the Greater New York Conference on Soviet Jewry. The other sponsoring groups of the Freedom Hunger Strike include the Long Island Committee for Soviet Jewry, the Oceanfront Council for Soviet Jews, the Committee of Rescue for Syrian Jews, Betar, and the American Jewish Committee.