NEW YORK (Aug. 13)
More than 100 campers from Camp Tel Yehuda, members of Young Judea which is sponsored by Hadassah, participated in a special demonstration last Thursday marking the 26th anniversary of the "night of the murdered poets" and protesting the Soviet government sanctioned publication of anti-Semitic literature. The campers, who arrived in two buses from the camp in Basryville, N.Y., some two hours driving time away, picketed in front of the Four Continents Book Store. Ian Stem, representing the campers, said that the book shop site was chosen not only because it is the major New York distributor for Soviet literature "but because it allows sales of official Soviet anti-Semitic material." A spokes-person for the Greater New York Conference on Soviet Jewry, sponsors of the demonstration, said that a Conference staff member had recently purchased an anti-Semitic book in the book store, "The Star of David," by Leo Korn, published by Novosti in Moscow.
"We have seen official Soviet smear propaganda right here in New York City," stated Margy-Ruth Davis, executive director of the Conference. "It would be in keeping with the Helsinki Accords and other international agreements if the Saviet Union were instead to permit freedom of expression and publish works such as the poems of those who were murdered 26 years ago."
The spokesperson said that the picketing of the book store was not an attempt to infringe on its Constitutional right to sell books but to get the store’s management to stop selling anti-Semitic literature.
The rally featured the reading of poems of those who were martyred as well as a special one by Felix Kandel, a prominent Soviet Jewish writer and poet who was a close friend of Anatoly Shcharansky and who himself was permitted to leave the Soviet Union only last year. The poem entitled "My Son, Anatoly Shcharansky," reads in part: "In a solitary cell/ Without friends and relatives/ Under the shadow of an extreme verdict. . ./ How much they wanted to break him then;/ How much they want to do it now!…" The "night of the murdered poets" occurred Aug. 12, 1952, in Moscow’s Lubianka Prison where 24 leading Jewish writers and poets were systematically killed on orders from Stalin. To date, Soviet authorities have not acknowledged the brutal act which was part of a carefully calculated campaign to eradicate Jewish culture from the Soviet Union.