HIAS participates in the rescue of the last of 450 Jews held in Egypt without charges since the Six Day War. Between 1956 and 1970, HIAS helps a total of 15,647 Egyptian Jews settle in North and South America, Europe and Australia.
In June, a group of 16 dissidents and Jewish refuseniks, including 2 non-Jews, are arrested in Leningrad for trying to hijack a Soviet airplane to Sweden in order to publicize the plight of Jews denied the right to emigrate to Israel. At the first of several trials, two of the would-be hijackers, Mark Dymshits and Eduard Kuznetsov, are sentenced to death. In response to international protests, their sentences are commuted to 15 years hard labor.
A World Day for Soviet Jewry is proclaimed. Demonstrations are held in London, Paris, Buenos Aires and major cities in the U.S., Canada and Australia. American Jews stage large demonstrations to protest the trials of dissidents involved in the hijacking attempt in Leningrad. The Union of Councils for Soviet Jewry is established as a more activist alternative to mainstream advocacy groups. The Jewish Defense League is linked to the bombing of the offices of Aeroflot in New York; the act is condemned by mainstream American Jewish organizations.
- Jewish emigrants from the USSR: 1,027
- Soviet Jewish immigrants to US: 124
- Soviet Jewish immigrants to Israel: 992
At a Kremlin-organized press conference in March, prominent Soviet Jews, such as war hero General David Dragunsky and Aaron Vergelis, editor of Yiddish literary magazine Sovetish Heymland (Soviet Homeland), denounce Jews who want to emigrate as “Zionist traitors.”
A wave of activists’ arrests signals the regime’s determination to crack down on those who resist its policies. The airplane hijack attempt in Leningrad is used as a pretext to round up dissidents in several cities.