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ADL Reports Soviet Jews Developing Mood of Defiance Toward Russian Government

February 3, 1970
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Political factors dominated three major developments last year in “the continuing agony of Soviet Jews,” according to a report released by Dore Schary, national chairman of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith. The report, based on an ADL survey of the situation of Soviet Jewry in 1969 conducted under the direction of Arnold Forster, the League’s general counsel, was released at the agency’s national executive committee meeting. Mr. Schary said that the anti-Zionist, anti-Israel position of the Soviet Union began to be used openly in 1969 as “a tool of intimidation” against USSR Jews, especially those who sought permission to emigrate to Israel; world opinion and inquiry forced the Kremlin to speak out and against Soviet Jewry’s complaints of anti-Semitism; and a “noticeable voice of protest” from Jews inside the Soviet Union made clear “a new mood of defiance.”

Mr. Forster noted that attacks on alleged “Zionism” are a standard device for attacking “Jews as Jews.” The theme. Mr. Forster said, was developed early in the year by Alexander Shelepin, head of the Soviet Trade Union Federation, in a speech before an Arab trade union conference in Cairo. Shelepin, after praising the activities of Arab terrorists, declared, referring to Zionists, that it was the Arab and Russian common duty “…to unmask and oust from our ranks the double-faced accomplices of imperialism and reaction.”

According to Mr. Forster. mounting protests around the world to Soviet handling of its Jews forced the government to issue lengthy booklets and make official denials of anti-Semitism. Mr. Forster said that although the majority of Soviet Jewry lives in passive fear, there is growing defiance among young Jews who are drawn to quasi-revolutionary activity. Many, he pointed out, were among the Soviet intellectuals tried and sentenced during 1969. Others engage in clandestine activities to preserve their Jewishness–such as private programs to teach themselves Hebrew. Still others, such as the Georgian 18, have boldly presented their problem to the outside world through letters to government officials and the United Nations.

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