WASHINGTON (Nov. 15)
Planes are already booked solid in many cities and hundreds of busses in New York are chartered to bring Jews to the Mobilization to the Summit march and rally scheduled here Dec. 6.
The demonstrators intend to show their support for Soviet Jewry on the eve of the meetings between President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, according to David Harris, the AJCommittee’s Washington representative and coordinator of the mobilization.
He said all flights arriving here from Dayton, Ohio, and Kansas City have been booked for that weekend and that Philadelphia and Baltimore are expected to send 10,000 demonstrators each.
Harris spoke to reporters Thursday following a day of briefings in Congress and the administration for about 25 AJCommittee members representing a dozen communities.
They met with Richard Shifter, assistant secretary of state for human rights and humanitarian affairs; Rozanne Ridgway, assistant secretary of state for Europe and Canada; Rep. Dante Fascell (D-Fla.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee; and Sen. Daniel Moynihan (D-N.Y.).
Theodore Ellenoff, AJCommittee president, said the officials were highly supportive of the mobilization plans, and indicated that the demonstration should not be “modest.” Fascell showed strong interest in attending, stating “his passionate belief in human liberties,” Ellenoff said.
The rally, to be held from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. that Sunday, will call on the Soviets to permit the emigration of all Jews who seek it, and to allow those that want to remain in the Soviet Union to practice their religion without reprisal, he said.
The demonstrators will assemble at the Ellipse, near the White House, starting at 11 a.m. and then march to the Lincoln Memorial.
Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel is honorary chairman of the event. Commitments to attend have been received from leading former refuseniks Natan Sharansky, Ida Nudel and Vladimir and Maria Slepak.
Gorbachev is not expected to arrive here until the following evening. He then is scheduled for talks with Reagan on Dec. 8 and 9 and to leave Washington on Dec. 10.
Ellenoff defended the scheduling of the mobilization before Gorbachev’s arrival. He noted that it is being held on a Sunday, which means people can attend without having to take off from work or school.
In addition, he said, the mobilization “will have sufficient reverberations to last all the way through Monday,” since Gorbachev’s people “read the press, observe the streets, (and) listen to the radio and TV.” The summit will mark Gorbachev’s first visit to the United States.
The demonstration will not be an anti-Gorbachev protest, but simply a pro-Soviet Jewry event, he noted. “We will carry this out in a dignified and orderly fashion without seeking to disrupt” summit activities, he said.