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Imprisoned Zionists in Soviet Russia Declare Hunger Strike

October 22, 1924
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

A five-day strike has been declared by the Zionist-Socialists imprisoned in Odessa, as a protest against the severe treatment they are subjected to by the Communist prison authorities.

From almost every part of Russian come reports of further arrests of Zionists, their imprisonment and exile. Zionist-Socialists were deported from Winnitza. Among them is Petrakowsky, whose crime consisted in publicly protesting against the persecutions of Socialists by the Communist Government, pointing out the keen disappointment of the Russian revolutionists that the methods of the Czaristic government had been adopted by a government claiming to represent the working masses.

Others among those who have been deported are: Madam Basja, Lulka Weissemann, a physician, Treidmann, Starosta. Bell Lulka, Joseph Abrahm and the brothers, Wigdorsohn. Especially tragic is the case of the Wigdorsohn family. Two brothers were deported some time ago as Zionist-Socialists and now their aged parents, with four sons in exile, are left alone, unable to provide for themselves, exposed to starvation. All appeals to the authorities to permit at least one of the sons to remain at home were denied.

Lubarsky, the leader of the Haschorner Hazoir has also been arrested. His arrest has caused great resentment in Zionist circles. The Haschomer Hazoir functions similarly to the Chalutz, a group of young Zionists who are preparing to assume in Palestine the task of Shomrim (watchmen) and agricultural workmen. The arrest caused surprise because the Soviet government had previously displayed appreciation and understanding of the Chalutz and the Haschomer Hazoir, whose aim of transforming the Jews into a productive, agricultural class conforms with Soviet principles.

Reports received from Russia confirm the impression that the persecutions of the Zionists continue unabated and have even gained in severity recently. A number of prominent officials in the Soviet Government have shown repeated readiness to recognize the peaceful character of the Zionist movement and have even been willing to concede the assertion that the Zionists have anti-revolutionary ideas as groundless. The Soviet Government has legalized the Chalutz, and some time ago gave permission to the Zionists to establish Hebrew courses, but every concession made by the Government has been blocked by the “Yevsektzia”, who continue to instigate arrests of Zionists and even refuse the Zionists permission to carry on such activities as are officially legalized by the Soviet Government. Even an impartial and general organization like the “Jewish Self-Defense” was subjected to persecution by the Jewish Communists because it includes elements of a Jewish national tendency.

Especially disconcerting is the antagonism against Hebrew. The Soviet laws do not prohibit any language, but Hebrew has been excluded because of the contention of the “Yevsektzia” that the teaching of Hebrew constitutes religious instruction, which is prohibited by the government. After the Zionists persistently pointed out that the Hebrew courses established by them have no religious character and are even frowned upon by orthodox Jews for that reason, permission was granted by the Government, but the Jewish Communists, claiming they would be anti-revolutionary centers, have prevented the Hebrew courses.

The Zionists of Soviet Russia have reached a stage of utter despair.

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