Begin: Thrust of Any Future Campaign on Soviet Jewry Should Be That of Repatriation
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Begin: Thrust of Any Future Campaign on Soviet Jewry Should Be That of Repatriation

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–Premier Menachem Begin told the presidium of the World Conference on Soviet Jewry that repatriation should be the main thrust of any future campaign on behalf of Soviet Jewry. The demand for repatriation, he emphasized, should continue to be “Let my people go.”

He stressed that this demand should be couched in terms of repatriation rather than “emigration” with “the emphasis on the word patria–homeland.”

Referring to the trickle of Jewish emigration from the Soviet Union, Begin warned it would be a mistake to divert activity from repatriation efforts to battle for Jewish cultural rights within the Soviet Union itself.

The Premier said he was confident that ultimately the “just cause” of Jewish repatriation from the USSR “will win the day because it is a basic human right written everywhere in the documents of human rights. This is an inherent right of every human being.”

Begin predicted that “if this campaign is waged with vigor and with courage we will see tens of thousands of our brethren from the USSR come home.” In this context he made special reference to the Prisoners of Zion and referred also to the Helsinki Final Act which the Soviet Union signed. The act included a call for reunification of families.


The presidium of the World Conference, which is also known as the Brussels Conference, is meeting in Jerusalem this week to determine future actions to try and increase Soviet Jewish emigration.

Among the more than 50 delegates at the conference from a dozen countries are leaders of top Jewish organizations, including the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council, National Conference on Soviet Jewry, Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, World Zionist Organization, B’nai B’rith, World Jewish Congress, and the International Women’s Organization for Soviet Jewry.


WZO chairman Leon Dulzin, who is also chairman of the presidium, read a letter addressed to the presidium from Ida Milgrom, mother of Anatoly Shcharansky, who beseeched that everything be done to save her son “while there is still time.”

Shcharansky, who has been denied all contact with the outside world, has been on a hunger strike since Yom Kippur, she wrote. Dulzin said there were rumors that he was being force-fed.

Dulzin also referred to the plight of Ida Nudel who since completing her term of exile in Siberia has been on the run. Under Soviet low people may settle only where they can find work. Nudel was refused work in Moscow and was not able to take up residency there, although it is her former home. She has been moving from place to place and cannot settle anywhere, Dulzin told the delegates.

Recalling the 1980 Brussels Conference presidium meeting in Paris, Dulzin said he had drawn attention there to the potential tragedy of the closure of the gates of the Soviet Union to Jewish emigration. He had been fearful then that the Russians would use the large dropout figure as a pre-text to halt emigration. Statistics had since proven that he had been correct, the WZO leader lamented. In 1979 more than 51,000 Jews had left the USSR. In 1980 the figure dropped to 21,000. Lost year only 9,000 left. Till September this year merely 2,000 Jews had emigrated from the USSR.

“Our message to the Soviet authorities from Jerusalem,” said Dulzin, is: “The struggle will go on. We will not give up.”

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