JERUSALEM (Sep. 22)
The Soviet Government, in a surprise move, has canceled the scheduled tour of Russia by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. Experts here interpreted the action as a new effort at intimidating Soviet Jewry. The orchestra had been scheduled to leave for Moscow November 10.
The decision, which appeared to be final, was conveyed yesterday by A. Yakushenko, the Soviet Charge d’Affairs in Israel, to the Israeli Foreign Ministry. The Soviet diplomat gave as the reason “the wild anti-Soviet campaign launched by Israel” on the subject of the situation of Soviet Jewry. Last June, the Soviets postponed the tour four days before its then scheduled departure on the pretext of inability to find suitable concert halls.
Israeli political sources expressed “deep regret and disappointment” over the Soviet action. They said that criticism voiced by Israel on the treatment of Soviet Jews had been more moderate than those voiced by various Western Communist parties and liberal groups. They said it appeared that the cancelation was aimed at intimidating Soviet Jews from contacts with Israel or Israelis, rather than as evidence of a new anti-Israel stance by the Soviet Government.