Most of the Jews who assembled yesterday at the Lebanese Embassy in Moscow to protest the slaughter of the Israeli athletes in Munich were savagely beaten by police and 25 of them were arrested, a Washington specialist on Soviet Jewry reported today. Dr. David Korn, chairman of the Soviet Jewry committee of the Jewish Community Council, said he had received the additional information via a telephone call to Moscow.
Initial reports said 30 Jews came to the Lebanese office to present a letter of protest to Lebanese officials but the first reports said nothing about beatings. Dr. Korn said he had spoken with several of the victims and based his report on a summary of their statements to him. He said he had been told that the number of protestors was about 100 and that they included 25 non-Jews. Apparently the non-Jews were not manhandled in any way by the police but they were arrested, as were 25 of the Jews.
The 25 non-Jews were put in one police van and the 25 Jews In another, Dr. Korn said he was told. The other 50 Jews were beaten and forcibly dispersed. The 25 arrested Jews also suffered beatings. The 50 who were arrested were released after several hours, Dr. Korn said, and allowed to return to their homes. Among the Jews taken to a militia jail in the Moscow area were David and Esther Markish; Prof. Aleksander Lerner, the computer expert; a Prof. Mash; Boris Orlov and Vadim Byelotzerkovsky. Dr. Korn said he was informed that Lerner and Mash suffered particularly severe beatings.
BROKE NO LAW
While the 25 Jews were in the jail cell, they prepared a petition to Roman Rudenko, the Soviet Union’s chief prosecutor. The text of the letter, as it was read to Dr. Korn, said:
“We Jews of Moscow gathered constitutionally and peacefully in front of the Lebanese Embassy. We have been beaten brutally by the police who informed us they were doing this at the request of high authorities. Since we were protesting to the Lebanese government that it was giving bases to the guerrillas, we feel that we have broken no law nor committed any crime under present existing law of the USSR. We demand that the guilty ones be brought to trial in criminal court.”
Dr. Korn also said he was told that telephones in more than 25 Jewish homes in Moscow were disconnected yesterday and that the government had jammed not only broadcasts from Kol Israel, which it does routinely, but also broadcasts from every western country. Most of the Jews Dr. Korn talked to said they thought this extended jamming was connected with the Munich tragedy.
Richard Maass, chairman of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry, said that the arrests were “a bizarre and tragic post-script to the uncivilized and inhuman action at Munich.” Rabbi Gilbert Klaperman, chairman of the Greater New York Conference on Soviet Jewry, called the arrests an outrage, and said: “All civilized men must abhor a state which will not even allow its citizens to mourn their fallen brothers.”
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.