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Demonstrations in Philadelphia, N.Y. to Protest Arrests of Jews in the Soviet Union

June 24, 1970
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More than 40 members of Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry and the Philadelphia Union of Jewish Students demonstrated this morning at the Monument of the Six Million in protest against the Soviet arrests of Jews and others in connection with the attempted Leningrad plane hijacking June 15. The demonstrators called for the immediate release of the Jewish “Leningrad 8” and the others being held, a fair and open trial, emigration permission, and restitution of Soviet Jewish rights. The students placed on the monument signs reading “is desire to go to Israeli treason?” and “Free the Leningrad 8.” Jewish groups have charged that the “alleged hijacking” was a “pretext” for repression of emigration demands.

In New York, about 50 youths representing the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry demonstrated in front of the Soviet Mission to the United Nations yesterday in a similar protest. But the demonstrators also turned their ire against American Jewish organizations which they accused of “passivity on the issue of Soviet Jews.” The charge that not enough was being done by Jewish organizations here to alleviate the plight of Jews in the USSR was made by Glen Richter, coordinator of the Student Struggle. He specifically mentioned the American Jewish Conference on Soviet Jewry, an umbrella organization embracing more than 25 national Jewish organizations. Mr. Richter said that his group wants to see a budget and a structure introduced to American Jewish efforts to help Russian Jews and make their situation known to the world. He said the American Jewish Conference on Soviet Jewry had a letterhead and ground out press releases but had no office, no staff, no budget and no program.

Mr. Richter told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in a telephone interview yesterday that the student group wanted to see an effective organization that could meet with Congressmen and other officials on the matter of Soviet Jewry and stimulate active intervention on their behalf. Mr. Richter said it was “shameful” that major American Jewish organizations “with millions of dollars” at their disposal have taken no action in this direction. He said the Student Struggle planned future demonstrations at the offices of some of the constituent organizations of the American Jewish Conference on Soviet Jewry to emphasize their demands. Yesterday’s demonstration in New York went off peacefully although police at one point prevented demonstrators from approaching the Soviet Mission premises. Pickets carried signs reading, “why is it treason to want to go to Israel” and “Free the Leningrad Eight.” Two candidates for the Democratic Senatorial nomination in New York State, Theodore Sorensen and Paul O’Dwyer, addressed the group and called for freedom of emigration for Soviet Jews. A message in a similar vein was received from Arthur J. Goldberg, candidate for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in New York. This afternoon, the Jewish Defense League seized two floors of an office building in New York housing Amtorg, the official Soviet Union trade office, and evicted the personnel, Rabbi Meir Kahane, director of JDL, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. He said the seizure was in retaliation for the arrests of Jews and raids on Jewish homes in the Soviet Union. Rabbi Kahane said the 30-50 JDL members who seized the office here “intend to remain in the office indefinitely.”

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