NEW YORK (Oct. 28)
The founding congress of a Soviet Zionist federation was nearly thwarted Tuesday, when about 100 delegates who showed up for the meeting in Moscow found the hall closed and themselves assailed in the media for trying to subvert the Soviet Union.
The attack was spearheaded by the Anti-Zionist Committee of the Soviet Public, whose communique denouncing “Zionist activity” was carried by the official news agency Tass and published in Soviet newspapers, including the right-wing Sovietskaya Rossiya.
There was also a mass demonstration in Moscow by some 300 people, including Palestinians, who waved banners with the slogan “Stop Zionists in Lenin’s Land,” according to a telephone report from Moscow received by the Long Island Committee for Soviet Jewry.
The Anti-Zionist Committee, to which some highly placed Jewish personalities once lent their names, was frequently used in the past as a channel for Soviet attacks on Israeli policy.
It charged Tuesday that Zionists have set up a spy network, which has penetrated the government and the new private sector.
“They have infiltrated the highest levels of government and are using joint enterprises to amass resources they need to finance their plans,” the communique charged.
It estimated that Zionist groups were active in 50 Soviet cities.
The National Conference on Soviet Jewry protested strongly Wednesday over “the continuing existence” of the Anti-Zionist Committee, “despite assurances from highly placed Soviet officials that the committee was in the process of being disbanded.”
‘ANACHRONISM FROM THE PAST’
“We call upon the Soviet leadership to immediately condemn the Anti-Zionist Committee’s statement as inappropriate at a time of increasingly warm relations between the Soviet Union and the Jewish national homeland,” the statement said. “We once again urge the Soviet leadership to disband this anachronism of the past.”
In fact, a key member of the committee had told American Jewish leaders two years ago that the committee was being disbanded.
According to the account received by the Long Island Committee, the idea for a Soviet Zionist federation originated with Lev Gorodetsky, head of the Irgun Zioni.
The group invited representatives of Soviet Jewish organizations to a congress in Moscow on Nov. 27. The list was obtained from the Vaad, the umbrella body of Jewish organizations in the Soviet Union, which decided to support the idea of a Zionist federation.
But when the 100 delegates arrived at a club rented by the Irgun Zioni, they found it closed. They decided, after much discussion, to meet instead at the Shalom Theater, which has become a center of Jewish cultural life in Moscow.
By that time, the Anti-Zionist Committee’s attack had already appeared in the media, and a demonstration was arranged.
The Anti-Zionist Committee charged that the conference and the federation were planned to collect secret military information about scientists and well-known Soviet Jews and transmit it to the Israeli Foreign Ministry. It urged the Soviet parliament to put a stop to this activity.