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100-hour Vigil Begins; 2500 Stage Rally; Rabbi Kahane, Ii Others Arrested

December 29, 1970
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Eleven persons were arrested and five were injured in mid-Manhattan last night when Jewish demonstrators tried to break through police barricades to reach the Soviet United Nations Mission to protest the trial and sentencing of Jews in Leningrad. Three of the injured were policemen and two were demonstrators. One youth reportedly required 14 stitches. Among those arrested was Rabbi Meir Kahane, chairman of the Jewish Defense League. He had just finished addressing an estimated 2500 protestors at Hunter College auditorium where he vowed “Two Russians for every Jew.” Rabbi Kahane was arrested after he allegedly exhorted a crowd of several thousand near the Mission headquarters to break through the police lines. He and II others were charged with disorderly conduct, loitering and inciting to riot and were arraigned today. They were released on their own recognizance and a hearing has been set for Jan. 7. The Hunter College rally marked the opening of a “100 hour vigil,” a campaign of continuous anti-Soviet demonstrations to last through the final 100 hours of 1971. The vigil is sponsored by Betar, a militant Zionist youth group, the JDL, the Ecumenical Council Against Religious Persecution, the New York Council on Soviet Jewry and Havurah.

The vigil was continued today by about 300 persons who picketed the United States Mission to the United Nations demanding an end to the SALT disarmament talks, no peace talks and no trade talks with the Soviet Union until it frees all Jews sentenced and detained. Today’s picketers consisted of JDL members and others and, according to the JTA reporter on the scene, at least one member of the Weathermen, the radical student organization. A JDL spokesman claimed today that police had provoked last night’s melee and arrested Rabbi Kahane, hoping that the 100-hour vigil would collapse if he were absent. The spokesman accused the police of using anti-Semitic epithets against the demonstrators but was unable to produce independent witnesses to substantiate that charge. The crowd attending the rally at Hunter College last night was inflamed by the severe sentences imposed by a three-man Leningrad court last week on 11 persons, nine of them Jews, for allegedly plotting to hijack a Soviet airliner. Two of the defendants received the death penalty and the others drew prison terms of four-15 years. The protestors shouted such slogans as “Never Again,” “Let My People Go” and “Open Up the Iron Door.”

One speaker was Rep. Mario Biaggi, a Bronx Democrat, who told the audience that although he is not Jewish, “I am here because my immigrant parents taught me that when you see a wrong, try to make it right.” Rabbi Jacob Bulka, of Congregation Adas Yeshurun in the Bronx, urged American Jews to “take advantage of your freedom here to bring freedom to the Jews there (in Russia).” The frenzied ovation given Kahane when he rose to speak indicated that a large portion of the audience consisted of JDL members and their sympathizers. The JDL has been vigorously condemned by major American Jewish organizations for disorderly and inflammatory behavior. Rabbi Kahane referred to them when he claimed that Russian Jewry can never be destroyed by the Soviets; “The only ones who can destroy them are the silent Jews of America.” He added: “We still have the stench of Auschwitz in our nose and so we say to (Premier Alexsei) Kosygin and (Communist Party Secretary Leonid) Brezhnev ‘Up Against the Wall’.” Bert Zweibon, JDL General Consul, told the Hunter College audience that “Never Again” is not a slogan. “It is a commitment of both body and soul to the future.” He added that it was time to “call the bluff” of religious groups who claim that the JDL method is not the Jewish way to demonstrate. “Tell them to say tehilim (psalms),” Zweibon declared. “And once they say tehilim, they will join us in our demonstrations.”

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