NEW YORK (Nov. 26)
The bombing of the Soviet Aeroflot and In tourist building here early yesterday morning has been denounced by Jewish leaders here and in Washington, D.C. The American Jewish Conference on Soviet Jewry called the act one of “barbarous terrorism.” emphasizing that “it is especially repugnant that it should be presented to the public as a form of Jewish reprisal for the Soviet government’s outrageous oppression of Jewish life in the Soviet Union and the denial of basic human rights to Soviet Jews.” Such actions by “small groups of misguided zealots” are not the way “to obtain basic rights for our fellow Jews in the Soviet Union,” the Conference statement continued. “Anyone who applauds the bombing or its perpetrators violates all principles of responsible behavior in a civilized society.” At a news conference yesterday, Rabbi Meir Kahane, chairman of the Jewish Defense League, said he had “no idea” who had planted the bomb, but said he “applauded” them. A JDL spokesman, Lucy Moskowitz, added to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency: “Obviously the JDL had nothing to do with it, but we praise the brave, humanitarian people who did it. It couldn’t happen to nicer people.” Shortly after the bomb blast, about 3:30 a.m., an anonymous caller told the Associated Press: “Let the world know that while Jews are on trial in Russia, the Soviet Union will be on trial. ‘Never against'”
That final phrase is the slogan of the JDL, which has been accused of similar incidents in the past. Most recently, during a JDL demonstration at the Soviet Mission on Monday night, a car allegedly driven by a JDL member plowed through wooden barriers and injured six policemen. But the police have indicated that anti-JDLers may be trying to implicate that controversial militant group in the Aeroflot-Intourist bombing. Neither the American Jewish Conference on Soviet Jewry nor any of the Jewish leaders who made statements in Washington accused the JDL directly of responsibility for the explosion at the Soviet air line and tourist offices. The Union of American Hebrew Congregations (Reform) said the “irrational act of terrorism” was carried out “apparently by Jewish extremists” and “inevitably must redound to the greater harm of Jews everywhere.” In Washington, Dr. William A. Wexler, international president of B’nai B’rith, called the bombing a “cowardly form of confrontation” and a “mindless act of terrorism that badly serves the Jews of the Soviet Union.” He said “the violence is as shocking as it is inexcusable,” and stressed that “it distorts the serious plight of Soviet Jews, weakens efforts to mobilize public support in their behalf, and hands the Kremlin a propaganda weapon.”
Three officials attending in Washington the 72nd biennial convention of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America condemned the bombing. Rabbi Joseph Karasick, the Union’s president, said it was “an undisciplined and unjustified action of a small group that does not represent any Jewish consensus nor any major responsible Jewish organization.” He predicted the bombing would “reflect negatively upon the situation of our brethren in Soviet Russia.” Rabbi Emanuel Rackman, provost of Yeshiva University, New York, and former president of the Rabbinical Council of America, while not specifically implicating the JDL in yesterday’s incident, observed that it “has gone so far afield” from its declared aims that “it has spent its energies on areas in which its tactics were often destructive rather than helpful–indeed, they were irresponsible.” He also said “reprisals” were not the way to react to Soviet oppression. Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, dean of Tifereth Jerusalem in New York, declared that JDL actions were “contrary to the Torah, which prohibits us from such deeds of violence,” and not welcomed by oppressed Jews throughout the world.