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Soviet Embassy Staff Member Yells ‘dirty Jew at B’nai B’rith Youth

February 23, 1982
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Some 80 B’nai B’rith youth from the United States, Canada, and England, standing vigil across the street from the Soviet Embassy, came face to face with the ugly side of world reality when a member of the Embassy staff called one of the teenagers a “dirty Jew.”

The youngsters were in Washington to attend a B’nai B’rith Youth Organization (BBYO) executive board meeting and briefings by Congressional and State Department officials. They braved a heavy rainstorm to participate in the demonstration for Soviet Jewry. In a spur of the moment display of emotion, the teenagers formed a circle, sang songs and chanted slogans calling for the release of Jewish refuseniks by the Soviet Union.

When Embassy personnel began leaving the building for lunch, Andy Shavel of Buffalo ran over to hand out leaflets. As he approached them, one of the Russians called out, “Watch yourself, you dirty Jew.” Shavel, a high school junior, was stunned for a moment. “I tried to reason with him,” he said later. “I asked, ‘what had our people ever done to hurt you?'” Shavel said the man responded by “yelling at me in Russian. As he got into his car, he stuck his tongue out at me,” the teenager added. “I never expected that from a diplomat.”


The youngsters were in Washington four-and-a-half days, most of the time discussing issues concerning Jewish teenagers and formulating policy for the 35,000-member BBYO, the largest Jewish youth group in the world.

They also met with an aide to BBYO alumnus Rep. Martin Frost (D. Tex.), with officials of the Israeli Embassy, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and State Department, and with B’nai B’rith president Jack Spitzer and executive vice president Dr. Daniel Thursz,

At the State Department and the Old Executive Office Building of the White House, the youngsters questioned Administration briefers about President Reagan’s Middle East policy. They emphasized the perceived shift to a pro-Arab stance and the U.S. reaction to the Israeli annexation of the Golan Heights.

Debbie Bermon, representing BBYO’s southern New Jersey region, said that “they (the State Department officials) covered up everything They didn’t want to give us any straight answers.” Others characterized the briefings, which officials declared as off the record, as “full of double talk and mumbo-jumbo.”

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