NEW YORK (Mar. 5)
More than 200 demonstrators, including some 100 rabbis, were arrested today in front of the Soviet Mission to the United Nations on Manhattan’s East Side.
The arrests were made by police after the demonstrators tried to approach the front entrance of the Mission following a one and a half hour rally on behalf of Soviet Jews.
The demonstration was co-sponsored by the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry (SSSJ) and the Long Island Committee for Soviet Jewry (LICSJ) in cooperation with the Greater New York Conference on Soviet Jewry (GNYCSJ).
Carrying placards on behalf of Soviet Jews, the rabbis, who arrived from the entire metropolitan area, New Jersey and Connecticut, and the other demonstrators, chanted slogans calling for the release of Jewish prisoners in the Soviet Union and an end to the persecution of Jews in that country.
The rabbis were dressed in prayer shawls. During the demonstration the Shofar was blown. According to the organizers of the rally, the mass arrest of rabbis is unprecedented in the 300 years of American Jewish history. According to a spokesman for the SSSJ, the rabbis were charged with disorderly conduct and released after they were booked by the police.
SPIRITUAL GENOCIDE CHARGED
Rabbi Avraham Weiss, chairman of the SSSJ, addressing the rally, charged that “There is a spiritual genocide in Russia today,” directed at the Jewish people. He said that today’s event in front of the Russian UN Mission was “timed to coincide with the visit to Washington of a high-level Kremlin delegation, headed by Vladimir Shcherbitsky, (Communist) party boss of the Ukraine and a Politburo and Central Committee member. It is also exactly a week before the opening of the long-awaited US-USSR arms talks in Geneva, and the day before the Jewish Fast of Esther, who in the Bible saved her people from mass extermination,” Weiss declared.
He added: “We are telling the Kremlin: “No more ‘business as usual’ while persecution takes place. We are saying to the White House: We want action now.”
He vowed that the Jewish community will continue “to stage mass arrests at Soviet offices” until progress is made “toward the redemption of our brethren from their imposed darkness.”
He said that today’s rally was part of “Operation Redemption” begun last January by American Jewry to save Soviet Jews.