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Refusenik’s Son Calls on Americans to Step Up Struggle for Soviet Jews

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Former refusenik Aleksandr Slepak told the United Jewish Appeal leadership that the third largest Jewish population in the world is in danger of extinction through persecution and attrition if current Soviet policies prevail.

“Until the Gorbachev regime,” Slepak said, “nobody dared to plant guns and drugs on Jewish teachers. Nobody dared to be so bold.” He called for “all Americans, Jews and non-Jews, to increase the pressure to secure the freedom of the Jewish people.”

His audience, the UJA National Campaign Cabinet, met here this week to shape the issues and establish the framework of fund-raising activities to motivate increased support for the coming UJA/Federation campaign.

Speaking emotionally of his parents, Vladimir and Masha Slepak, whom UJA National chairman Martin Stein visited on a recent trip to Moscow, Slepak said: “We have to make it clear to the Soviets that, whatever the American Administration, we will not accept these ups and downs. My parents and 400,000 other refuseniks have been through five summits. Every time hope. Every time disappointment. Refuseniks have many serious health problems because of the stress; their life is running out.”

The Soviets, he warned “will not offer ‘presents’ during this current period of unrest in the White House.” Furthermore, he noted, “The Soviets are blaming Secretary of State (George) Shultz and President Reagan for halting the negotiations on Soviet Jewish emigration that were planned for Reykjavik.”

After the failure of those meetings, Slepak, in Reykjavik to plead for his parents’ release, asked Soviet representatives, “Who gave you the right to tie human beings to weapons–literally tying bodies to rockets?”

Setting the stage for campaign planning, Stein vowed, “The UJA will continue to focus the attention of the American community on the plight of Soviet Jewry.” He announced that the 1986 campaign has raised $656.1 million so far and projected a final campaign total of $693 million.

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