VANCOUVER, British Columbia (May. 15)
One American Jewish student was expelled from Canada and several others were detained Wednesday when members of three New York-based Zionist organizations protested the treatment of Russian Jewry during Soviet Union Day at Expo ’86.
Tamir Elia, 20, of Brooklyn, N.Y., was arrested by Canadian police and given 36 hours to leave the country after he participated in a vocal protest during the opening ceremonies of the Soviet Day celebration. Elias, a member of the Tagar student Zionist activist movement, was taken into custody after he interrupted a speech by Vasily Shamshin, Soviet Minister of Communications.
As Shamshin took the podium to address more than 3,000 people gathered in the Expo’s Plaza of Nations, Elias and several other Zionist demonstrators called on the Soviet official to “end the Holocaust against the Russian Jews.”
Loud chants of “Let Our People Go,” and “Stop Oppressing Soviet Jews,” greeted Shamshin as he was introduced by the Master of Ceremonies. Expo security officials removed the students from the building before Shamshin was able to continue his remarks.
Throughout the day, other Zionist activists continued to raise the issue of Soviet Jewry at the world’s fair. Members of the Herut Zionists of America and the Betar Zionist youth organization distributed materials on Soviet Jewry, solicited signatures on petitions to the Soviet government, and held a press conference in front of the Soviet pavilion. During the press conference, two additional activists were expelled from the fairgrounds.
Elias, who was held for several hours at the local police station, complained after his release that he had been forcibly strip-searched in front of other prisoners during his detention. He said that he would voluntarily obey the order by the Canadian Immigration Department to leave the country.