1967


HIAS

In the wake of the Six Day War, HIAS helps 2,800 Jewish refugees from Tunisia, Morocco, Libya, Egypt and Lebanon find new homes in the United States and Canada.

SOVIET UNION

The Soviet Union, in a continuation of its efforts to court Arab states as allies in the Cold War, supports the Arab side in the Six Day War. It breaks off diplomatic relations with Israel and mounts an anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic media campaign.

U.S./WORLD

Israel fights and wins the Six Day War against Egypt, Syria and Jordan.

American Jews have been actively protesting the oppression of Jews in the Soviet Union for several years. Two important organizations, the American Jewish Conference on Soviet Jewry and Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry, are established in 1964, while the publication of Elie Wiesel's Jews of Silence in 1966 draws new attention to the plight of Russian Jews.


STATISTICS

  • Jewish emigrants from the USSR: 1, 406
  • Soviet Jewish immigrants to US: 72
  • Soviet Jewish Immigrants to Israel: 1,403

Looking Back

In 1967, the Jewish population in the Soviet Union numbers approximately 2,568,000. Fourteen years after the death of Stalin, the worst of the anti-Jewish persecution of his regime is over, but discrimination against Jews and the curtailment of their cultural and religious freedom persist. For about a decade, there have been Jews who protested this repression by gathering in small groups to learn Hebrew or study Jewish history, sing in Jewish choirs, and hold memorial meetings at the mass graves of Jews murdered by the Nazis. Young people gather on Simchat Torah to sing, dance, and socialize in the few synagogues that remain.

The Six Day War is seen as a turning point in the emergence of the Soviet Jewish emigration movement. Israel's military victory inspires a resurgence of pride for many Soviet Jews, which their governmentís anti-Israel and anti-Semitic campaign cannot suppress. In fact, the campaign signals to Jews that they no longer are considered loyal citizens and that there may be no future for them in the Soviet Union.

The ranks of those who secretly have been celebrating Jewish holidays, learning Hebrew, and searching out other information about Jewish history and culture begin to grow. On Simchat Torah, the 20,000 Jews who dance with Torah scrolls in the street in front of Moscow's Central Synagogue do so in a new spirit of defiance.

For the first time, even non-Zionists begin to consider emigration. But for almost a year after the Six Day War, few exit visas are granted. In the coming years, those who apply for visas face increasing danger, including dismissal from work and, in some cases, prison. The plight of the refuseniks helps focus world attention on human rights abuses in the Soviet Union. The issue becomes a bargaining chip in the continuing Cold War between the superpowers, embraced by Western political leaders who seek to maintain a hard line with the Soviet Union and viewed as a distraction by those who prefer to focus on disarmament and détente. The struggle for Soviet Jewry unites Israel with Jews in the Diaspora in a common cause.