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Voronel and Wife in Israel

December 30, 1974
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Prof. Alexander Voronel, one of the leading activists for Jewish emigration from the Soviet Union, arrived here this morning with his wife, Nina, successfully culminating a two-and-a-half year struggle for their own emigration rights.

The 44-year-old theoretical physicist who was dismissed from his Job and stripped of his academic prerogatives when he first applied for an exit visa in April, 1972; landed at Ben Gurion Airport with a large group of Russian-Jewish emigres from Vienna. They travelled in an Austrian airliner owing to the shut-down of EI AI because of a labor dispute. (See separate story.)

A large group of Israeli and emigre scientists were at the airport to greet Prof. Voronel. He was welcomed by Prof. Yuval Ne’eman, president of Tel Aviv University and himself an internationally prominent physicist, who assigned a position to Voronel on the university faculty a year ago. Voronel’s son, a mathematics student who lives in Jerusalem, was also at the airport.


Voronel’s case was brought to world-wide attention when he organized scientific seminars at his Moscow apartment to enable other dismissed Jewish scientists to keep up with the latest developments in their fields. Voronel freely admitted that another purpose was to bring the plight of Jewish academicians and intellectuals to the attention of world opinion. His seminars were constantly harassed by the KGB (secret police).

One such gathering, scheduled for last July when former President Nixon was in Moscow, was prevented from taking place by Soviet authorities who sealed Voronel’s flat and arrested who even sought entry to it. Voronel told reporters at the airport that the seminars were part of the struggle for emigration and had proved effective. “Instead of us fearing the KGB it was the KGB that feared the activities of Jewish scientists,” he said.

Voronel was offered an exit visa last month on condition that he end the seminars. He told the Soviet authorities that was not in his power and that other activists would take over the weekly meetings. He was nevertheless allowed to depart .Voronel said today that he hoped his colleague, Prof. Mark Ashbel, would continue to organize and conduct the meetings.

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