Actress Jane Fonda and Mayor Tom Bradley issued public appeals here yesterday to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev on behalf of Soviet Jewish refusenik Ida Nudel amid reports that her health has deteriorated.
Fonda and Bradley urged Soviet officials to allow Nudel, known as the “guardian angel” of the Soviet Jewry movement, to be reunited with her sister, Ilana Fridman in Israel. Nudel first applied for emigration from the Soviet Union in 1972.
In Israel, meanwhile, Fridman told a news conference that Nudel is suffering from cancer. Fridman, who spoke to her sister by telephone recently, said Soviet doctors had diagnosed stomach cancer “but there is some doubt about that diagnosis.”
“From reports about how she walks and how she looks there is reason to fear that her general health is very poor,” Fridman said. She said Nudel informed her that the KGB was trying to keep her isolated in the Moldavian town of Bendery where she now lives. “People are afraid to be her friend and she is very lonely, “Fridman said.
Fonda disclosed that Soviet authorities have harassed Nudel in her efforts to obtain medical care, “once even being physically removed from a train to Moscow where she was to see a doctor.” Local officials in Bendery have threatened Nudel with a new trial and prison term, according to Fonda.
“I ask you to understand the legitimate desire of Ida Nudel to be with her sister in Israel, particularly when her health is so precarious, and I implore you to make a gesture of good will and humanity toward Ida Nudel,” Fonda said in an appeal to Gorbachev. “I ask you to investigate the conduct of the authorities in Bendery who have interfered with her efforts to seek medical care and who have threatened her with a new trial.”
Nudel served a four-year sentence in Siberian exile for drapping a banner outside her Moscow apartment window asking that she be granted a visa. She first applied to emigrate in 1971.
Fonda has taken a personal interest in the plight of the 54 year old Nudel, and visited her in the Soviet Union last year. It was the first time Nudel was allowed visitors from the West.
Mayor Bradley, meanwhile, issued a similar appeal. In a letter to Gorbachev, Bradley said: “Ida Nudel has suffered enough. Respectfully, I ask that you allow her to obtain proper medical care and that you grant her an exit visa so she can join her family in Israel. The international community would certainly welcome such a humanitarian gesture.
Jewish emigration from the Soviet Union has decreased to a trickle in recent years. Only 37 Jews were allowed to leave the Soviet Union in June. So far this year, 464 Jews have been allowed to leave the USSR. In 1979, a peak year in Jewish emigration from the USSR, more than 50,000 Jews were allowed to leave.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.