Page 53 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 40

Basic HTML Version

T h e Six-Day War p rovided Soviet Jew ry with a powerful source
o f Jew ish national pride . Th e ir split identity reflected itse lf in the
qu ip , “Did you hear, ou r tanks are de fea t in g o u rs !” T h e inten sifi­
cation o f national consciousness fue led a greater dem and for
sam izdat works th roughou t the country. Distribution reached
beyond the large st cities to Kishinev, Sverdlovsk, Vilna, Kharkov,
Odessa , Minsk, Novosibirsk, Sam arkand and Tbilisi. Tran s la tion s
o f books describing the Israeli victory su rged in popularity. Th e
most w idespread were excerpts from The Six-Day War by R an ­
do lph and Winston S. Churchill, J r . and Sivift Sivord by General
S .L . Marshall.
T h e Six-Day War was the p re lude to a new and unexpected
period in Soviet Jew ish history — the large scale em igration o f
Soviet Jew s. In the years from 1968-1980 approxim ately 250 ,000
Jew s left the Soviet Union.
Changes in sam izdat reflected this struggle . From the late six­
ties to early seventies sam izdat focused on the struggle to achieve
the very right to em igrate . A lthough previous Jew ish sam izdat
continued to circulate, new sam izdat app ea red which concen­
trated on achieving practical Zionist goals. Documentary and
publicistic material best met the needs o f the moment.
One new form consisted o f petitions and collective appea ls —
ostensibly for help in em igrating add re s sed to Soviet authorities,
the UN or Western political leaders. Th e designated add re ssee
rarely re sponded but the petitions reached other intended aud i­
ences — Soviet Jew s and Western public opinion. O ften they
followed an indirect route into sam izdat: smugg led out to the
West by visiting tourists (and later by depar ting Soviet Jew s) they
were then broadcast back to the U SSR , copied and distribu ted by
Jew ish activists, who by late 1969, carried copies o f these appea ls
from one city to ano th er.6
Th ese p leas included individual calls for help, such as those by
T ina Brodetskaia or Boris Kochubievskii as well as citywide or
regional petitions — the letter o f the Moscow 39, the letter o f 18
6 On the petition campaign see: Shimon Redlich, “Jewish Appeals in the USSR:
An Expression o f National Revival,” Sovi/'tJewish Affairs, Vol. 4, No. 2, 1974, pp.
24-37; Philippa Lewis, “The Jewish Question in the Open, 1968-71,” in TheJews
in Soviet Russia Since 1917, ed. L. Kochan, Oxford, 1978, 3rd ed.