Highlights of the Year 5743
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Highlights of the Year 5743

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The international scene presented world Jewry with the formidable task of combatting anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiments, sparked partly from the war in Lebanon, which during the course of the year 1983, sometimes turned into overt violence. Synagogues and Jewish or Israeli installations in several West European capitals, including Rome, Brussels and Paris, were the targets of terrorist attacks.

Continued attention was addressed to bringing the last remnants of Nazism to justice. Most prominent of the war criminals was the notorious “butcher of Lyon, ” Klaus Barbie, who was expelled from Bolivia and now faces justice in Lyon for “crimes against humanity.” His arrest caused considerable embarrassment for the United States government when it was disclosed that the U.S. employed Barbie in post-World War II Germany and then spirited him to safety in South America.

Israel’s isolation in the international community eased somewhat as the European Economic Community agreed to lift sanctions it imposed on Israel at the outbreak of the war in Lebanon. Diplomatic relations were resumed with Liberia, with reports of possible further increases in ties with Black African states. Israel’s credentials were withdrawn from the International Atomic Energy Agency, but with strong U.S. support, Israel maintained good standing in the United Nations General Assembly despite continuing attempts by Arab states to have the Jewish State expelled.

Among other significant developments were the Polish government-sponsored 40th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, Soviet Jewry was again the target of vicious Soviet government-sponsored anti-Semitism, Anatoly Shcharansky staged a four-month hunger strike to protest the denial of basic prison privileges.


SEPTEMBER 1982 — Jewish emigration from the Soviet Union from January through August totals 1,961 as compared to the 35,553 Jews who were permitted to leave during the same period in 1979, a peak year for Jewish emigration.

Conrad Schellong, a former SS officer alleged to have commanded a unit at the Dachau and Sachsenburg concentration camp during World War II, has his American citizenship revoked for having made “material misrepresentation” of his Nazi past when he applied for U.S. citizenship.

Veteran emigration activist Feliks Kochubievsky of Novosibirsk is arrested and charged with “circulation of fabrications known to be false which defame the Soviet state and social system.”

Rosh Hashanah observances in Paris and Brussels are marred by two separate terrorist attacks. In Paris, an Israeli diplomat’s car is blown up, injuring 50 persons, and in Brussels, a man fires a submachine gun into a crowd of worshippers leaving the city’s main synagogue, seriously wounding four.

Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir addresses the United Nations General Assembly on Israel’s foreign policy principles. Most Arab and Third World delegates leave as Shamir mounts the podium to deliver his speech.

Prisoner of Conscience Anatoly Shcharansky begins a hunger strike on Yom Kippur eve in the Soviet Union’s notorious Chistipol Prison to protest the confiscation of his mail and the refusal by authorities to allow visits by his family.

The U.S. walks out of the International Atomic Energy Agency conference in Vienna after Israel’s credentials are withdrawn.

OCTOBER — Terrorists attack with submachine guns and hand grenades worshippers congregating after Sabbath and Simchat Torah services at Rome’s main synagogue, killing a two-year-old child, and wounding 37 others, many of them women and children.

Bahij Younis, a 29-year-old Palestinian, goes on trial in Vienna accused of masterminding the attack on the Jewish community center in the summer of 1981 in which two people were killed and 18 were wounded.

After some three weeks of threats, speculations and intense diplomatic activity, the General Assembly approves Israel’s credentials to the Assembly, when it votes 75-9 with 31 abstentions not to support Iran’s bid to suspend Israel.

The Justice Department initiates action to deport Bohdan Koziy, a resident of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., for his collaboration with the Nazis in his native Ukraine during World War II and his participation in the murder of a Jewish family in 1943. Koziy was stripped of his U.S. citizenship last March.

A federal judge in Detroit orders the deportation of Archbishop Valerian Trifa, head of the Rumanian Episcopate in America, for having lied about his association with the Rumanian fascist Iron Guard during World War II, when he entered the U.S. in 1950.

NOVEMBER — Shamir, on his first visit to Zaire since diplomatic relations with that country were restored last May, concludes his three-day official stay with the signing of a number of mutual cooperation agreements in the fields of agriculture, construction and military technology.

The U.S. Supreme Court declines to hear an appeal by John Demjanjuk, a Ukrainian-born former concentration camp guard who was stripped of his American citizenship in 1981 because he lied about his Nazi past when he obtained it.

The credentials committee at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Committee (UNESCO) votes overwhelmingly to approve Israel’s credentials after Arab states, led by Syria and Iraq, back off from an attempt to bar Israel’s participation.

Because the Rumanian government makes a distinction between “emigration” and “aliya,” Chief Rabbi Moses Rosen asserts that Jews seeking to immigrate to Israel will not be affected by a new Rumanian directive which would require all emigrants to reimburse the government for the free secondary and higher education they have received.

Two people are killed and a third seriously wounded when a powerful bomb explodes in the building housing the Israel Embassy in the Ecuadoran capital of Quito.

An order for the extradition to West Germany of a former gestapo officer accused of wartime murder of more than 11,000 Jews in occupied Lithuania, the first Canadian action to extradite a war criminal, is issued in Toronto against 74-year-old Albert Helmut Rauca.

Pope John Paul II becomes the first Pope to specifically renounce the Spanish Inquisition, conceding that the Catholic Church had erred in its war on heretics which took the lives of thousands of Jews and other nonconformists in 16th-17th Century Spain, and in other Catholic countries.


DECEMBER — The Greater New York Conference on Soviet Jewry and the National Conference on Soviet Jewry reports that the number of Jews allowed to emigrate from the USSR in 1982 was 2,670, the lowest since the two agencies started keeping records 12 years ago.

Asher Hanukaiev, a recent emigrant from the Soviet Union, claims in an interview with a Beersheba newspaper that he met with missing Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg in Sverdlovsk prison more than 10 years ago and that Wallenberg told him he was arrested because he helped save Jews during World War II.

Vladimir Slepak of Moscow, known as the father of Jewish emigration efforts in the Soviet Union and one of the leading refuseniks, returns to his home after five years of exile in Siberia where he served a sentence for “malicious hooliganism.”

The Jewish community of Yugoslavia issues a protest against recent acts “inciting open demonstrations of anti-Semitism” which are contrary to “the constitutional and social order of Yugoslavia and her basic political determinations.”

Shamir, in Buenos Aires, says that Argentine officials have promised him they will investigate the disappearance of hundreds of Jews among the thousands of other Argentine citizens who have disappeared during the recent years of political turmoil in Argentina.

Rabbi Morton Rosenthal, the director of the Latin American Affairs department for the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, reports that the Great Synagogue in Lima, Peru was bombed, leaving its windows shattered, and that in Medellin, Columbia, six masked gunmen invaded a synagogue and desecrated its interior while ordering a small group of elderly persons to line up against a wall.

(Continued Tomorrow)

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