1973

HIAS

While the vast majority of Soviet Jewish emigrants go to Israel, HIAS resettles 1,773 emigrants in the U.S. and other countries, a threefold increase from the previous year. HIAS plays a key role in obtaining “parole” status for hundreds of Soviet Jewish refugees waiting in Rome to obtain U.S. visas, speeding up processing and allowing them to enter the U.S. on an emergency basis.

SOVIET UNION

In response to pressure from the West, the Soviet Union suspends the “diploma tax” on departing Jewish emigrants.

After two unsuccessful attacks on the Schoenau Castle in Vienna – a transit point for Soviet Jews en route to Israel – two members of the extremist Palestinian group Black September board a Soviet train in Bratislava and take hostage several Soviet Jews and an Austrian customs official when the train crosses into Austria. The Austrian government agrees to shut down the Schoenau, but Vienna remains the first destination for departing Soviet Jews until they can travel directly to Israel in the last years of the Soviet Union.

U.S./WORLD

The House of Representatives passes the Jackson-Vanik Amendment, which links most-favored-nation trade status to human rights and denies this status to the Soviet Union because of its restrictions on emigration and suppression of other civil liberties.

In January, the Paris Peace Accords officially end U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. The Senate begins televised hearings on Watergate, the political scandal involving U.S. President Richard M. Nixon and other government officials.

The socialist government of Salvador Allende is overthrown in Chile.

Egypt and Syria launch a surprise attack on Israel on Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement.

STATISTICS

  • Jewish emigrants from the USSR: 34,733
  • Soviet Jewish immigrants to US: 1,449
  • Soviet Jewish immigrants to Israel: 33,477

Looking Back

Congress conducts hearings on the The Jackson-Vanik Amendment. The measure is supported by many dissidents within the Soviet Union, as well as by Soviet Jewish advocacy groups in the West. Those in favor of the amendment reject “quiet diplomacy,” maintaining that consistent political and economic pressure on the Soviet Union is a more effective strategy for changing Soviet policy.

As has been the case for years, many Soviet universities have Jewish quotas. Jews, even those with high scores on entrance exams, are refused admission to the best universities. Jews applying to the prestigious mechanics and mathematics department of Moscow State University are presented with special “Jewish problems” to solve within 10 or 20 minutes. The questions are so difficult that physicist and dissident Andrei Sakharov reports that he himself needed well over an hour to solve one of them.

Seven Jewish scientists – Mark Azbel, Aleksandr Voronel, Moisei Giterman, Vladimir Raginsky,Viktor Brailovsky, Anatoly Libgover and Aleksandr Lunts – who have been dismissed from their jobs after applying for emigration but refused exit visas, stage a hunger strike.