Jewish Demonstrators Battle with Communist Party Members As Brezhnev Arrives in France
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Jewish Demonstrators Battle with Communist Party Members As Brezhnev Arrives in France

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Jewish demonstrators battled with Communist Party members at Orly Airport today as President Georges Pompidou extended a royal welcome to Leonid Brezhnev, Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party, who arrived on an official visit to France. One Jewish youth was seriously injured and was rushed to a hospital. The melee broke out as the Jews, waving posters denouncing the Soviet Union for anti-Jewish repression, attempted to break into the VIP enclosure at the airport.

Thirty young Jews were arrested later after they invaded the offices of the France-USSR Friendship League as Brezhnev and Pompidou were driving up the Champs Elysee accompanied by two squadrons of mounted guards. The invaders sent a cable from the occupied office to Gen. Ivan Ivanovich Pokus, chief of the Jewish affairs department of the Soviet security police in Kharkov, demanding the release of all Jewish prisoners in the USSR.


The outbreak developed despite massive security measures by French authorities. Some 10,000 French police and riot squads have been mobilized in Paris for Brezhnev’s protection. On the eve of the Soviet leader’s arrival, 59 anti-Soviet activists were rounded up and deported to Corsica for the duration of his stay in France. It was not known if members of Jewish activist groups were among the deportees. But Jewish youths managed to blanket Paris with thousands of posters and leaflets bearing Brezhnev’s picture under the caption. “Wanted for anti-Semitic Repression.”

Official Jewish representative groups in Paris refused to cancel plans for demonstrations during the Soviet leader’s visit despite pleas from French authorities. But they agreed to hold them far from his route. Unofficial Jewish groups, mainly students, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that they intended to stage demonstrations “where Brezhnev can see us.” These are expected to take place in front of the Soviet Embassy and in front of the Opera House in the heart of Paris. Demonstrations are also planned in Marseilles where Brezhnev will visit Thursday.


The Jewish demonstrators may find themselves in strange company. Two right-wing organizations prepared anti-Soviet demonstrations near the Arch of Triumph tonight. One of them, “Ordre Nouveau” incorporates several neo-Nazi and anti-Semitic groups which were declared illegal and dissolved. The other is the “Solidarity” group. Police have forbidden their meetings and clashes were expected. Brezhnev’s visit could be important as far as the issue of Soviet Jews is concerned. Prof. Addy Steg, president of the Representative Council of French Jews (CRIF), said last night that President Pompidou promised to intervene on behalf of French Jews with Brezhnev in the course of their talks if the atmosphere was right. Steg said Pompidou told him he was “highly aware” of the problem and asked for additional information which CRIF provided.

French Jewish leaders meanwhile are waiting for an official Soviet reply to their request for a meeting with Brezhnev. Political sources here believe it is highly unlikely that the Soviet leader will receive them. Last Thursday Dr. Nahum Goldmann cabled Brezhnev on behalf of the World Jewish Congress asking that restrictions on emigration, cultural and religious activities be lifted for Soviet Jews. (Dr. Goldmann, who arrived in Israel Friday, denied reports that he had asked to meet with Brezhnev. He said he had prepared a petition to be handed to Brezhnev in Paris demanding full rights for Soviet Jews. He said the petition, on behalf of the World Jewish Congress, conceded that a remarkable improvement was noted in the Soviet attitude toward Jewish citizens but stressed that the situation still leaves much to be desired.

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