NEW YORK (Jun. 27)
More than 30 demonstrators, nine of them with packed suitcases, offered themselves to the Soviet Union in front of Aeroflot airlines today, as hostages in exchange for Anatoly Sharansky, the jailed Jewish activist accused of being a spy for the CIA. Officials of the Soviet airline refused to meet with the demonstrators, but with a city policeman acting as an intermediary, referred them to the Soviet mission.
Marching in a circle and chanting: “If Sharansky is CIA, Brezhnev is FBI,” the demonstrators then marched to Intourist, the Soviet travel agency, and were refused entry. The charge of treason against Sharansky carries with it a possible death sentence.
According to Glenn Richter, head of the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry which sponsored the demonstration, the fact that it was one year ago today that Jews were taken hostage at Entebbe, Uganda, is symbolic for the demonstrators today because: “We understand now, when there is a Jewish hostage, we have to act with some strength.” Richter added that the reason for the suitcases packed with warm clothing was to show the willingness of the demonstrators to be flown to the USSR as hostages.
Speaking to the demonstrators and passersby, Rabbi Avraham Weiss of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale and one of the rabbis who chained themselves to the Soviet mission two weeks ago, demanded that President Carter meet with Sharansky’s wife and said: “When it comes to trade and tax credits. . .that’s the only language the Russians understand.” Richter added: “We’ll be back and we’ll be back. . . to fulfill our promise to Sharansky.”