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Soviet Jews Reported Under Pressure to Demonstrate Against Israel

March 13, 1967
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

“Terrible pressure accompanied by threats” is being exerted on Jewish leaders in the Soviet Union to write letters of protest and organize public demonstrations against Israel, the Washington Post reports on the basis of information received in Washington from travelers.

The report reveals that officials of synagogues in Moscow, Tashkent and other cities were summoned one by one recently to the office of a known Soviet secret police agent in the Government bureau in Moscow handling religious affairs. Under threat of retaliation unless they cooperated, they were urged to organize letter-writing campaigns and protest demonstrations to take place this Saturday.

Soviet concern supposedly was aroused by a “Week of Soviet Jews” devoted to the cause of Soviet Jewry held in Israel at the end of February. This observance was one of a series of the life of Jews in other countries sponsored by the World Jewish Congress. “Some synagogue leaders are said to have refused to call protest meetings on Saturday because it is the Jewish Sabbath. It is thought that in consequence some of the forced demonstrations may take place tomorrow, ” the report in the Washington Post said.

The “week” in Israel followed similar discussions of the situation of Jews in Britain, France and Latin America. No Israeli officials participated. The session on Soviet Jews had been postponed for six months because of pressure from the Soviet Government.

The Washington Post points out that the current Soviet efforts against Israel are apparently a sequal to the recent trial of a Soviet Jew for alleged espionage on behalf of Israel. The trial was disclosed in February. Solomon Dolnik, a retired engineer, was convicted in Moscow of conspiring for espionage purposes with members of the Israeli Embassy — notably David Gavish, a second secretary who was declared persona non grata last August 14. Israel has categorically denied that members of the Embassy committed any impropriety with Dolnik.

An Israel source told the Washington Post that the Soviet charges were “total fabrications” and likened them to accusations against Soviet Jewish physicians in the “doctors plot” during the Stalin era.

(The American Jewish Conference on Soviet Jewry, representing twenty-five major national Jewish organizations, expressed its “shock and chagrin” today at the report published in the Washington Post that pressure accompanied by threats is being exerted on Jewish leaders in the Soviet Union to write letters of protest and organize public demonstrations against Israel. “The Jewish citizens of the Soviet Union are being subjected to a pattern of harassment, particularly in their relationships with their fellow Jews in Israel and the West, ” said Rabbi Israel Miller, chairman of the Conference. “This is but the most recent in a whole series of incidents which seem to be directed to arousing the fears of Soviet Jews against innocent and legitimate contact with their co-religionists abroad.”)

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