Passengers leaving Ben Gurion Airport are being given the addresses of the Soviet embassies in their countries of destination. They are asked to bombard the Soviet diplomats with telephone calls, telegrams and letters denouncing the trials of Anatoly Shcharansky and Alexander Ginzberg which began today. (See related stories P. 3.)
This is only one manifestation of the tidal wave of angry protest that has engulfed Israel over the trials of two men who have become symbolic of the struggle of Soviet Jews for emigration and human rights. Shcharansky, who has been charged with treason, faces a possible death sentence. Ginzberg will be tried for “anti-Soviet propaganda.”
Hundreds of petitions protesting the trials have been placed on busy street comers throughout the country. Postcards bearing a photograph of Shcharansky are available, to be mailed to President Carter, urging the U.S. to exert pressure on the Soviet Union by restricting trade relations between the two countries. Israeli organizations were urged today to send cables to corresponding organizations overseas, drawing their attention to the trials and stating that the threat to Shcharansky’s life was “a death sentence on the aliya movement from the USSR.”
Such messages have already been sent by the mayors of several Israeli cities to their counterparts abroad. The embassies of the 18 countries that signed the Helsinki pact were urged by former aliya activists today to save the life of Shcharansky.
BEGIN, KNESSET ISSUE APPEALS
The Knesset today called on all persons of good will everywhere to work for the redemption and release of Shcharansky and all Prisoners of Zion and Jewish “aliya” activists in the Soviet Union. The Knesset, except for Rakah (Communist Party) which protested that the Knesset was holding the session in the first place, was in full agreement on the resolution. Premier Menachem Begin, speaking in the name of the government, called on the world to intervene in the Soviet trials.
“We are turning to all parliaments, all governments and foreign ministers, all men of justice and science, all people of good will, and all those with justice in their hearts and liberty in their souls, to awaken before it is too late,” Begin declared. Terming the case of Shcharansky a case of blood libel, Begin stated that his only crime was love of Zion.
Yigal Allon, speaking in the name of the Labor Party opposition, said “our friends in the Soviet Union constitute the front line of Jewish existence….We must concentrate all our weight devotion and love behind them, until we will see Soviet Jews freely on their way to the country of their choice.”
LAWYERS, EDUCATORS PROTEST
Meanwhile, the heads of institutions of higher learning in Israel have embarked on a world-wide drive to secure the release of Shcharansky and Ginzberg. The National Lawyers Burecu has decided to stage a public trial of the anti-Jewish persecution in the Soviet Union. Supreme Court Justice Haim Cohen is expected to preside.
In Tel Aviv, lawyers gathered in a protest rally outside the district court. Yitzhak Toonik, president of the Lawyers Bureau said “These are artificial trials based on false accusations whose only purpose is to assist the persecution of Jewish aliya activists.” He warned that the trials were not a one-time episode but an ongoing policy of the Soviet Union dating back to the October Revolution.
In Jerusalem, police detained 10 members of the Jewish Defense League for vandalizing the Russian Orthodox Church. Windows were smashed and anti-Soviet slogans smeared on the walls. A JDL spokesman called it the “appropriate Israeli reaction” to the Shcharansky trial.
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.