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Protest Against Soviet Writers Leads to Cancellation of Meeting

May 11, 1990
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“Russian Nazis out of New York!” and “No U.S. government money to anti-Semites!” was the greeting seven Soviet literary figures, some of whom are believed to be anti-Semitic, received upon arrival in New York.

Members of the Jewish Defense Organization, a small militant offshoot of the Jewish Defense League, demonstrated outside their hotel Wednesday night to protest their being in New York, as part of a United States Information Agency tour.

A Thursday meeting between the writers and a delegation from the Zionist Organization of America was canceled at the last minute. The ZOA says the cancellation was a direct response to the demonstration.

Vitaly Lekhter, president of ZOA’s Soviet Jewish Division, said the United States Information Agency told him that “they are afraid to meet with us because Mordechai Levy staged a violent demonstration.”

Not true, says the USIA, which is sponsoring the writers’ national tour. “They were angry that too many meetings were pushed into their few days in New York. They were simply overbooked,” said Donna Shirreffs, acting director of the New York Reception Center of USIA.

“They hadn’t even arrived in New York yet,” she added, explaining that the JDO demonstration occurred at around 7 p.m. and the plane didn’t arrive until 10 or 11 p.m.

But JDO leader Mordechai Levy insists that the Soviet writers were there. “They just scurried for cover,” said Levy. “They didn’t know what would happen to them.”

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