NEW YORK (Oct. 29)
Silva Zalmanson, whose struggle for freedom has made her “the symbol” of Soviet Jews who are fighting for their freedom, was welcomed at City Hall today by Mayor Abraham D. Beame and more than 100 Jewish community leaders and activists on behalf of Soviet Jewry. She was greeted with champagne, a huge birthday cake (for her 30th birthday) and firm promises that the fight for Jews in the Soviet Union will continue.
Miss Zalmanson, who arrived here last night from Israel, will spend three weeks touring the U.S. to help spur a national effort to secure freedom for nearly 40 Jewish “Prisoners of Conscience” in Soviet jails and labor camps. She herself was sentenced in 1970 to 10 years in a Soviet prison for alleged plotting to hijack a Russian airliner. She spent four years in a labor camp and was released last Aug.
Her husband. Edward Kuznetsov, who was originally sentenced to death for his role in the alleged “hijacking,” had his sentence commuted–after world-wide protest–to 15 years. Her two brothers. Vulf and Israel, are serving terms of 10 and 8 years respectively. Her 19-day tour through the U.S. is under the auspices of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry and her meetings here are sponsored by the Greater New York Conference on Soviet Jewry.
Beame, who presented the visitor with a key to the city, told the gathering: “On behalf of all New Yorkers, it is my pleasure to welcome Miss Zalmanson to our city. Her heroic struggle to reach Israel typifies the plight of many Jews in the USSR who have been imprisoned solely for the ‘crime’ of wishing to emigrate to that nation. I am hopeful that Miss Zalmanson’s visit will inspire even more extensive activity on behalf of the Soviet Jewry movement here and around the world.”
URGE INTENSIFICATION OF STRUGGLE
Miss Zalmanson, visibly moved by the warm reception, thanked the Mayor and all those who fought for her freedom. Speaking in Russian she said that the letters and news about the efforts made here on behalf of Soviet Jewry are a great encouragement to the imprisoned and harassed Jews in the Soviet Union.
Kings County District Attorney Eugene Gold, chairman of the Greater New York Conference on Soviet Jewry, presented Miss Zalmanson with a gold Mogen David with her name inscribed on it in behalf of the Conference. Gold urged the gathering to intensify the struggle for Soviet Jewry in this “historic moment” when the Soviets and the U.S. have reached an accord on immigration. He warned, however, that this agreement is valid for only 18 months and that period will be “a test for Soviet intentions.”
He added that unless the U.S. maintains vigilance and keeps the pressure on the Soviets to adhere to the principles of the recent U.S.-USSR accord on Jewish emigration, “the agreement could collapse and dash the hopes of hundreds of thousands of Jews who desperately want to leave the Soviet Union.”