President Chaim Herzog and Premier Yitzhak Shamir urged the Soviet Union to re-open its gates to the emigration of Jews who wish to join their families in Israel.
Their statements on the eve of the International Week of Solidarity with Soviet Jewry, which begins tomorrow, emphasized the mounting concern in Israel over the plight of Jewish Prisoners of Conscience and others harassed and threatened with imprisonment for such “crimes” as studying the Hebrew language or applying for exit permits.
“We are not hostile to the USSR,” Herzog declared. “We oppose only its policies toward the Jewish nation that lives in its midst and its policy in the Middle East.”
USSR’S IRRATIONAL HATRED OF JEWS DEPLORED
Shamir deplored the “irrational hatred of the Jewish people and the Jewish State” by Soviet leaders. He noted that the USSR has diplomatic relations with “the most reactionary regimes” but has never explained its refusal to re-establish diplomatic ties with Israel, broken by the Kremlin during the 1967 Six-Day War.
Every Soviet Jew has the inherent right to leave for Israel and Israel will continue to fight for the realization of that right, Shamir said. Leon Dulzin, chairman of the Jewish Agency and World Zionist Organization Executives, spoke of the “poisonous atmosphere” of anti-Semitism in the USSR.
About a dozen Knesset members attended a “prisoner’s lunch” at the King David Hotel. The lunch duplicated the rations fed political prisoners in Soviet jails and labor camps.
A GRASS ROOTS RESPONSE
There was grass roots response to the condition of Soviet Jews. Hundreds of Hebrew University students sent solidarity postcards to Jewish families in Russia this week. The cards were provided by the Council for Soviet Jewry. Each student wrote a few lines. “I wrote to one Jew that we are all with him and hope to see him with us,” one student said. Another said, “True, I don’t know him, but just as I would like to see every Jew in Israel, so I hope that this specific family will show up here.”
Still another student said, “I don’t know who I wrote the postcard to and it really doesn’t interest me. The main thing is that it is a Jew who suffers for being a Jew.” Most of the students who sent the postcards are overseas Jews studying in Israel.
Meanwhile, school children paraded at dawn yesterday outside the Russian Church in downtown Jerusalem with placards demanding “Let My People Go.” The Chief Rabbinate has ordered special prayers for Soviet Jews to be recited at all synagogues this Saturday.
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.