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Mrs. Markish Says Soviet Jews Will Continue to Fight for Rights Despite Harassment and Physical Dang

May 1, 1972
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

A young Soviet Jewish woman, who emigrated to Israel six months ago, said here that Jews in the Soviet Union will continue to fight for their rights to live as Jews despite harassment and actual physical danger. This assertion was made by Mrs. Irina Markish. Her husband, David Markish, and mother-in-law. Mrs. Esther Markish, have been denied permission by Soviet authorities to leave for Israel.

During a press conference held in the offices of the Jewish United Fund, Mrs. Markish described the plight of Soviet Jews and discussed her own fight to leave the USSR which she said was only partially successful because she had to leave without her husband and mother-in-law. David Markish, 33, a poet and writer who lost his job after applying for an emigration visa and who has been staging a hunger strike in Moscow since last Saturday, is the son of the noted Jewish poet Peretz Markish who, along with 23 other Jewish writers and poets, was executed during the Stalin regime in 1852. Mrs. Esther Markish, 60, a translator, is the wife of Peretz Markish. David Markish was one of 10 Soviet Jewish activists, all Army Reserve officers, who last week were ordered to report for active duty.

Focusing on the plight of Soviet Jewry, Mrs. Markish said that Jews live “in an atmosphere of anti-Semitism and are denied any right of national identity. They are confronted with anti-Semitism on their jobs, on the streets, on buses and in stores.” This, she said, is the extent of the national identity permitted to Jews in a land where the Soviet Constitution guarantees the right of minorities to live according to their own traditions and heritage.


Jews who apply for permission to leave the Soviet Union, as Mrs. Markish, her husband and her mother-in-law did, are immediately subject to severe liabilities, she said. She stated that Jews have lost their jobs immediately upon making application; are insulted by co-workers, neighbors and acquaintances; are forced to take menial jobs or face imprisonment; are subject to impossible demands from government officials for taxes and fees; are forbidden to attend synagogue services in Moscow; and that the number of Jews sent to prison has increased rapidly in recent months.

Mrs. Markish also stated that the desire of Jews to leave the Soviet Union is snowballing. “Jews who never thought of leaving are doing so now,” she stated. The highlight of the press conference was Mrs. Markish’s telephone call to Moscow to speak with her husband and mother-in-law. After talking to them, she told the press conference that “Esther and David want to relate that only the American people and public opinion in the free world will help them leave Russia.”

Mrs. Markish, who is in Chicago to participate today in the local observance of National Solidarity Day for Soviet Jewry, asserted that the efforts of people of all faiths outside the Soviet Union to help Russian Jews has been a large factor in the easing of restrictions on emigration. She stressed the value of public meetings such as the one here today at the Civic Opera House and others across the country in helping to bring the weight of world opinion on the Soviet government. The Solidarity Day observance here is under the sponsorship of the Public Affairs Committee of the Jewish United Fund with the cooperation of the Soviet Jewry Committee of the Community Council of Jewish Organizations.

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