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Jewish Students Stage Hunger Strike at the Soviet Embassy

July 26, 1984
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

A small group of students staged a hunger strike across the street from the Soviet Embassy yesterday to express solidarity with 100 people on a similar strike in Riga and Leningrad to protest the three-year prison term given to Zakhar Zunshain recently for “anti-Soviet propaganda.”

Those fasting (but not abstaining from water due to extreme heat) from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. were Philip Machlin, U.S. chairman of the North American Jewish Students Network; Moshe Ronen, North American president of the Network; and Craig Zetley, national co-chairman of the National Jewish Law Students Network. They were joined in their vigil by Baruch Tegene, an Ethiopian Jew who now lives in Montreal, and Shlomit Shalom, an Israeli swimmer who was a member of the Israeli Olympic team at the Olympic Games in Munich in 1972. The chairman of the World Union of Jewish Students (WUJS), David Makovsky, has just begun a three-day hunger strike at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. Makovsky had invited Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir and Labor Party leader Shimon Peres to participate in the strike at the wall. They declined because of the elections; however, they both sent him telegrams saying they had contacted the Soviet Union about Zunshain and giving Makovsky their support.

Simultaneous one-day strikes were held by students of the Network all over the world — in Leningrad and Riga and affiliates of the WUJS in Israel, Europe, Australia, South America, South Africa and Canada.

The demonstrators in yesterday’s event in Washington began their protest by displaying placards. However, six D.C. police officers told them they would have to stand two blocks away unless they removed their placards. The group then disposed of their signs and regrouped across the street from the Embassy where a daily vigil has been held for many years. They were joined after noon by the daily group.

One non-Jewish visitor to the Soviet Embassy carried in one of the protestors’ news releases, and it was not returned. As a rule, the Soviets do not accept any written matter from the protestors and rarely is a demonstrator admitted to the Embassy.

Shalom’s visit to Washington is part of a trip organized by the WUJS to commemorate the deaths of II Israeli athletes in Munich in 1972, and “to bring home to America and Canada the impact of the massacre on the media and the worldwide television audience,” according to a spokesman.

Shalom will take part in an all-night vigil to be held on the evening of July 26 at Queens Park in Toronto, commemorating the Munich massacre. She will then go to the Olympic Games in Los Angeles where the memorial program will be jointly sponsored by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and it is hoped that many of the Israeli athletes participating in the Olympics will be able to participate. After the Olympics, she will take part in another program in Vancouver.

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