Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

American Jewish Groups Condemn Slepak, Nudel Sentences

June 23, 1978
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

American Jewish leaders expressed outrage today over the sentences imposed by two Moscow courts on Vladimir Slepak and Ida Nudel. They were given five and four years, respectively, of “internal exile”–meaning banishment to Siberia–for protesting Soviet violations of their human rights, including the right to emigrate. Both were convicted yesterday on charges of “malicious hooliganism.”

The American Jewish Congress called on the Soviet authorities to repeal the “harsh and totally unjustified sentences imposed by Russian courts,” in a statement issued by Alvin Gray, chairman of its National Governing Board. “Sending the Slepaks into internal exile for five years and Ida Nudel for four effectively forecloses any possibility of their immigration to Israel for a further long period despite the years of heartbreak and waiting they have already endured….This action by the Russian courts gives lie to Soviet professions of humanitarian and compassionate concern for reuniting families as mandated by numerous international undertakings to which the Soviet Union has affixed its signature. We call upon Soviet authorities to repeal these sentences and to let these innocent accused leave the country and join their families in Israel,” Gray said. His reference to “the Slepaks” included Mrs. Maria Slepak who faces the same charges as her husband but has not yet been brought to trial.


Richard Maass, president of the American Jewish Committee, said today that “the internal exile sentences handed down yesterday to Vladimir Slepak and Ida Nudel make a mockery of Soviet justice. Slepak and Nudel have committed no crime. They have only insisted on their right to emigrate to Israel,” he said. “These sentences… are evidence of a resurgent anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union. It is a cruel and criminal attempt to intimidate thousands of Soviet Jews who want to emigrate. These trials are also part of the Soviet government’s campaign to crush all activity on behalf of human rights inside the USSR, as evidenced by the harsh prison and internal exile sentences recently given to Yuri Orlov,” Maass said.

In Washington, David M. Blumberg, president of B’nai B’rith, said its 500,000 members in 42 countries “join people the world over in protesting the unconscionable denial of human rights embodied in the harsh sentencing of Vladimir Slepak and Ida Nudel.” He said that “despite Soviet Bullying, repression and trials which mock justice, the eloquent actions of Slepak, Ida Nudel and others who seek only to emigrate to Israel are a tribute to the indomitable human spirit.”


The Greater New York Conference on Soviet Jewry sponsored a rally on behalf of Slepak and Nudel yesterday on Wall Street, the heart of New York’s financial district which drew a huge noontime crowd. Mervin Riseman, chairman of the GNYCSJ, said, “We view with honor the inhumane treatment of these two brave individuals who face a Moscow courtroom for nothing more than demanding their rights of emigration, rights guaranteed them by Soviet and international law….We here will not be silent until the rights of all Soviet Jews are realized. We call upon you, the business community, to react forcefully in this case. American trade must not be put in the hands of Soviet oppressors,” Riseman said.

In a related development in Denver, the Colorado Committee for Concern announced today that it is sending a statement to the U.S. Olympic Committee warning against the use by the Soviet Union of American athletes, such as former world heavy-weight boxing champion Mohammed Ali, to camouflage action against Soviet-Jewish activists. The statement, signed by committee co-chairpersons Lillian Hoffman and Rhoda Friedman, noted that a statement of praise for the Soviet Union, emanating from a visit to the USSR by Mohammed Ali, “coincides with the sentencing of Jewish refusniks Vladimir Slepak and Ida Nudel to Siberia.” The statement said, “We consider these simultaneous events to be the opening gun in the preparation for the 1980 Olympics in Moscow. The Soviet scenario reads, pave the way for world renowned athletes to come to the USSR to propagandize for the Russians and at the same time smash the Jewish refusnik efforts for visas and exile them to Siberia,” the Committee for Concern said.

Recommended from JTA