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Soviet Jewish Activists Fear Move to Silence Emigration Movement; Levich Under Attack in Official Ne

August 31, 1977
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

In an appeal to Jewish communities around the world, more than 30 Soviet Jewish activists expressed fear that Soviet authorities are trying to turn Soviet Jewish emigration activists into “Jews of silence.” it was reported by the National Conference on Soviet Jewry (NCSJ).

In a related development, it was reported that Prof. Benjamin Levich, a world authority in the field of physic-chemical hydrodynamics, who has been seeking without success to emigrate to Israel since 1972, has come under heavy attack in what he termed an official Soviet effort to defame him. The attack on Levich appeared to bear out the anxieties expressed in the appeal by the Jewish activists.

“For a number of years,” the appeal stated, “the Soviet authorities have been trying to isolate the Jewish emigration movement in the USSR from the rest of world Jewry and in the long range to liquidate it completely. For this reason, criminal charges have been opened on false accusations against the well-known Jewish activist and fighter for the repatriation of the Jews, Anatoly Shcharansky.

“According to the authorities’ plan, the accusation of Shcharansky should have also put to an end our contacts with foreign tourists, correspondents, political, scientific, religious and cultural leaders of the West who are showing an interest in the problem of Jewish emigration.”


The appeal also stated that dozens of Jewish refusniks are presently being called to Moscow’s Lefortovo prison, where Shcharansky is being held, for questioning. “They are frightened and threatened with criminal charges for signing letters and petitions,” the appeal stated. Among those signing the document, the NCSJ reported, were Ida Nudel, Vladimir Slepak, Dina Beilina, Zakhar Tesker, Victor Elistratov and Yevgeny Yakir.

In releasing the appeal, the NCSJ also announced that an Ad Hoc Commission on Justice for Shcharansky will meet in Washington Sept. 20. Sen. Frank Church (D.Idaho) has agreed to serve as one of the commissioners, while co-counsels will be Prof. Alan Dershowitz of Harvard University and Jack Greenberg of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, according to the NCSJ.


Levich told a press conference at his home in Moscow yesterday that he feared a Soviet campaign to defame him and disclosed that he had received threatening phone calls warning him not to speak to Western journalists.

Levich told reporters that a personal attack on him had been launched in the current issue of Literary Gazette, the official weekly publication of the Soviet Writers’ Union. He said an anonymous caller warned him that if he replied to the attack, there will be other denunciations and that his moral character would be called into question. Levich said he was ignoring the warning and was sending an open letter to the weekly replying to the attack.

The scientist said that the attack in the Gazette was apparently prompted because other Soviet and Western scientists are coming to his defense. Levich noted that the magazine, in the same article, attacked the international scientific conference at Oxford University last month honoring him on his 60th birthday. Soviet authorities refused to let him attend. At that time, Levich stated that he feared for his future.

The article, which Levich described as “an ominous sign” and as “slander and blackmail,” claimed that the Oxford conference, which was attended by 150 scientists including 19 Nobel Prize laureates, was “an organized anti-Soviet action” and a “pro-Israel-smelling plot.”

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