Two Soviet Jews began a 36-hour hunger strike this morning a little more than a block away from the Soviet Embassy as an expression of “support and solidarity” for Jews being harassed in the Soviet Union. Although they were within sight of the White House, their immediate purpose, friends said, was to demonstrate to the Soviet Embassy officials that they wish to speak out for their people in the Soviet Union who are being denied permission to leave.
The hunger strikers are Dr. Michael Eppelman, whose wife Paulina, and their nine-year-old daughter, Julia, are unable to leave the USSR and join him in Israel, and Katya Palatnik, sister of the Russian Jewish prisoner of conscience, Raiza Palatnik. The two Soviet Jews are guests here of the Jewish Community Council of Greater Washington. Dr. Eppelman left the Soviet Union in Feb. of last year because, he said, “it was not possible for me to live my life as a Jew” in Russia and that he felt “the Soviet policy toward Israel and the Middle East conflict was totally unacceptable to me.”
COULD NOT LIVE AND WORK AS A JEW
He added, “as a Jew I could not live and work in a country whose government blindly supported regimes seeking to destroy my people.” He said that his wife, the head of pharmacology at the Leningrad Hospital, knew “how strongly I felt about my identification as a Jew, but I was unwilling to inform her about my decision to escape because I did not wish to make her an accomplice to my act of leaving.” He said that after his arrival in Israel she indicated her desire to be reunited with him “in Israel and sent her the necessary documents for an exit visa for herself and their daughter.” Mrs. Eppelman’s attempts to obtain emigration papers have been denied.
Dr. Eppelman said his wife has appealed to the Secretary General of the United Nations and to the International Red Cross for intervention. No answer, he said, has been received from either of these agencies. Dr. Isaac Franck, executive vice-president of the Greater Washington organization, has urged that telegrams be sent to President Nixon care of the American Embassy in Moscow to “remind him that we expect him to be the advocate of Soviet Jewry” when he meets with Soviet leaders next week.
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.