Soviet Jewish Activists Say Ford Administration’s Opposition to J-v Amendment is Harming Soviet Jews
Menu JTA Search

Soviet Jewish Activists Say Ford Administration’s Opposition to J-v Amendment is Harming Soviet Jews

Download PDF for this date

A group of leading Soviet Jewish activists has accused the Ford Administration of “worsening” the condition of Soviet Jews by its outspoken opposition to the Jackson-Vanik Amendment to the Foreign Trade Act which links U.S. trade benefits to the USSR with Soviet emigration policies. According to the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry, 57 activists from 11 Russian cities issued a declaration stating:

“It seems to us that statements by some leading representatives of the American Administration that support of Soviet Jews by the American Congress would lead to the worsening of their situation, were among the most important factors that made the Soviet leadership confident that it can, with impunity, continue repression and blackmail intended to smother emigration.”

The activists rejected as “far removed from reality,” the argument that the trade-emigration linkage is harmful to them, the SSSJ reported. Their declaration added: “It is very difficult to change our condition by one specific action. But we think that specific actions by the U.S. Congress connected with foreign trade forced the Soviet government to suspend its sinister plan to smother Jewish emigration using an education tax, and in this way helped the emigration of tens of thousands of Jews.”

According to the SSSJ’s report, the statement went on to say: “We believe that an opportunity for further improvement in the issue of emigration is connected not with declarations and statements of sympathy but with specific actions as the Foreign Trade Act. We hope that the support which the Congress provides to the cause of the struggle and realization of the right of free emigration will continue and strengthen.”


In another development, the SSSJ reported that Soviet secret police agents “abducted” 13-year-old Olga Sakova from Moscow in “a chilling re-enactment of Moscow teenager Marina Tiemkin’s kidnapping.” The SSSJ said it was informed by Marina’s father, Prof. Alexander Tiemkin who is now in Israel, that Olga Sakova was taken from the home of her maternal grandmother Feb. 19, the third anniversary of Marina Tiemkin’s removal from the custody of her father.

According to the SSSJ, Olga was taken to the Orlenok youth camp, the same camp where the Tiemkin girl was held. Olga’s mother, Margarita Sakova-Kemmelmacher, was forced to leave the USSR without her daughter when her first husband who had abandoned the child many years before, re-emerged at the instigation of Soviet authorities to deny Olga an exit permit, the SSSJ said.

The SSSJ also reported that “Prisoner of Conscience” Anatoly Altman is threatened with transfer to Russia’s most notorious prison and was put in solitary confinement because he had refused to work to protest the withholding of mail from Israel. Another prisoner, Israel Zalmanson, serving an eight-year sentence imposed at the first Leningrad hijack trial in 1970, was recently given two weeks in solitary confinement for punching a person who called him “kike.” the SSSJ said.


A new wave of propaganda was unleashed against Jewish activists in Moscow in the form of an article in the Soviet weekly “New Times” implying that activists are paid foreign agents, the SSSJ reported. The article titled “The People Who Have Lost Their Motherland,” by V. Okhovetsky, attacks Jews as “sellers of living souls.” It specifically denounces activists Vladimir Slepak and Prof. Alexander Lerner, who meet with visitors from abroad and teachers at the Moscow Hebrew “ulpan,” Zev Shachnovsky and Mikhail Tchlenov.

They are accused in the article of organizing paid groups “ready to fulfill any task” such as carrying placards or staging fights near a synagogue in order to cry “anti-Semitism,” the SSSJ said. It said the article appears to have been planned for some time because it contains “names of activists such as Anatoly Malkin who was arrested a year ago or Mikhail Polotsk who has been out for over a half year.”

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund