Thursday, November 25, 2010

  • Thursday, November 25, 2010
  • Elder of Ziyon
Yossi Klein Halevi has written a semi-autobiographical book review of "When They Come for Us We’ll Be Gone: The Epic Struggle to Save Soviet Jewry" by Gal Beckerman, at The New Republic.

His review may be almost as good as the book.

Here's the beginning:
By the standards of the 1960s, the founding demonstration of the Soviet Jewry movement was hardly notable. On May 1, 1964, a thousand students gathered across from the Soviet mission to the United Nations in Manhattan to protest a Soviet ban on baking matzo and other anti-Jewish measures. Compared to demonstrators for the far better known causes of the time, they were a tame lot. No one blocked traffic or scuffled with police. Instead, protesters marched in a circle so orderly that one reporter commented on how refreshingly responsible these young people were, which was damning praise for a movement aspiring to change history.

Yet that is precisely the process that was set in motion by the May Day demonstration. The struggle to free Soviet Jewry would become one of history’s most successful protest movements, a sustained quarter-century-long campaign that lost none of its fervor and encompassed ever-widening circles of participants. Though the movement failed to persuade the Soviet Union to permit the free baking of matzo, it went on to fulfill its most improbable goal: forcing open the Iron Curtain and restoring to the Jewish people several million Jews marked by the Kremlin for coerced assimilation. In the process, American Jewry discovered its political power and its spiritual vitality, as a once-timid community learned to become a vigorous advocate of Jewish interests. This was the pre-history of the élan that American Jewry acquired in the wake of the Six Day War a few years later.

The movement’s significance transcends its impact on Jewish history. In the mid-’70s, Congress adopted the JacksonVanik amendment linking trade credits for the Soviet Union to its Jewish emigration policy. By mobilizing Congress to override a reluctant White House, the movement helped to establish the principle that human rights supersede national sovereignty, that democracies are morally bound to intervene in the internal affairs of dictatorships. The Soviet Jewry movement in America was also a milestone in modern humanitarian politics.

And, according to Gal Beckerman’s superb and likely definitive narrative of the Soviet Jewry struggle, the movement deserves credit even for helping to hasten the fall of the Soviet Union. Deftly moving between the Soviet Union and the United States, the two main arenas of the struggle, Beckerman shows how Jewish activists on one side of the Iron Curtain emboldened Jewish activists on the other. The more risks Soviet Jews took in challenging their government, the more American Jews intensified their campaign, in turn further encouraging Soviet Jews, who initiated acts unprecedented for Soviet citizens, such as sit-ins at government offices. The “refuseniks,” as Jews denied exit visas were known, created the Soviet Union’s only mass dissident movement that spanned the USSR, and the vigorous support of Jews abroad provided a measure of immunity, ensuring that refuseniks would not become anonymous and therefore extinguishable targets. By weakening the capacity of the Soviet system to instill fear, the movement eroded the self-confidence of Soviet leaders. “Zionism is making us stupid,” Beckerman quotes Leonid Brezhnev complaining to his Politburo. In effect, the Kremlin was confronted with a bleak choice: either renew Stalinist-era repression or concede defeat. Soviet leaders tried to respond with a third, and more ambiguous, approach: allow some refuseniks to emigrate while jailing others and keeping still others in limbo. That process failed because every exit visa pried from the Kremlin only convinced activists to intensify the pressure.

Halevi was himself involved in the movement from the beginning, so he has some interesting insights on the subject.

The New Republic provides some bloggers and their readers with a special pass-through URL to go past TNR's paywall, so you can read the entire review here. (Just another benefit of reading EoZ!)

And if you want to buy the book, please use this link to support the blog.


EoZTV Podcast

Podcast URL

Subscribe in podnovaSubscribe with FeedlyAdd to netvibes
addtomyyahoo4Subscribe with SubToMe

search eoz





For $18 donation

Sample Text

EoZ's Most Popular Posts in recent years


Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 14 years and 30,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


Donate to fight for Israel!

Monthly subscription:
Payment options

One time donation:

subscribe via email

Follow EoZ on Twitter!

Interesting Blogs


#PayForSlay Abbas liar Academic fraud administrivia al-Qaeda algeria Alice Walker American Jews AmericanZionism Amnesty analysis anti-semitism anti-Zionism antisemitism apartheid Arab antisemitism arab refugees Arafat archaeology Ari Fuld art Ashrawi ASHREI B'tselem bahrain Balfour bbc BDS BDSFail Bedouin Beitunia beoz Bernie Sanders Biden history Birthright book review Brant Rosen breaking the silence Campus antisemitism Cardozo cartoon of the day Chakindas Chanukah Christians circumcision Clark Kent coexistence Comix Community Standards conspiracy theories COVID-19 Cyprus Daled Amos Daphne Anson David Applebaum Davis report DCI-P Divest This double standards Egypt Elder gets results ElderToons Electronic Intifada Ellen Horowitz Embassy EoZ Trump symposium eoz-symposium EoZNews eoztv Erekat Erekat lung transplant EU Euro-Mid Observer European antisemitism Facebook Facebook jail Fake Civilians 2014 Fake Civilians 2019 Farrakhan Fatah featured Features fisking flotilla Forest Rain Forward free gaza freedom of press palestinian style future martyr Gary Spedding gaza Gaza Platform George Galloway George Soros German Jewry Ghassan Daghlas gideon levy gilad shalit gisha Goldstone Report Good news Grapel Guardian guest post gunness Haaretz Hadassah hamas Hamas war crimes Hananya Naftali hasbara Hasby 2014 Hasby 2016 Hasby 2018 hate speech Hebron helen thomas hezbollah history Hizballah Holocaust Holocaust denial honor killing HRW Human Rights Humanitarian crisis humor Hypocrisy ICRC IDF IfNotNow IJ Benjamin Ilan Pappe Ilhan Omar impossible peace incitement indigenous Indonesia infographic international law interview intransigence iran Iraq Islamic Judeophobia Islamism Israel Loves America Israeli culture Israeli high-tech J Street jabalya James Zogby jeremy bowen Jerusalem jewish fiction Jewish Voice for Peace jihad jimmy carter Joe Biden John Kerry jokes jonathan cook Jordan Joseph Massad Juan Cole Judaism Judea-Samaria Judean Rose Judith Butler Kairos Karl Vick Keith Ellison ken roth khalid amayreh Khaybar Know How to Answer Lebanon leftists Linda Sarsour Linkdump lumish mahmoud zahar Mairav Zonszein Malaysia Marc Lamont Hill Marjorie Taylor Greene max blumenthal Mazen Adi McGraw-Hill media bias Methodist Michael Lynk Michael Ross Miftah Missionaries moderate Islam Mohammed Assaf Mondoweiss moonbats Morocco Mudar Zahran music Muslim Brotherhood Naftali Bennett Nakba Nan Greer Nation of Islam Natural gas Nazi Netanyahu News nftp NGO Nick Cannon NIF Noah Phillips norpac NSU Matrix NYT Occupation offbeat olive oil Omar Barghouti Omri Boehm Only in Israel Opinion oxfam PA corruption PalArab lies Palestine Papers pallywood pchr PCUSA Peace Now Peter Beinart Petra MB philosophy poetry Poland poll Poster Preoccupied Prisoners propaganda Proud to be Zionist Puar Purim purimshpiel Putin Qaradawi Qassam calendar Quora Rafah Ray Hanania real liberals RealJerusalemStreets reference Reuters Richard Falk Richard Landes Richard Silverstein Right of return Rivkah Lambert Adler Robert Werdine rogel alpher roger cohen roger waters Rutgers Saeb Erekat Sarah Schulman Saudi Arabia saudi vice self-death self-death palestinians Seth Rogen settlements sex crimes SFSU shechita sheikh tamimi Shelly Yachimovich Shujaiyeh Simchat Torah Simona Sharoni SodaStream South Africa Sovereignty Speech stamps Superman Syria Tarabin Temple Mount Terrorism This is Zionism Thomas Friedman Tlaib TOI Tomer Ilan Trump Trump Lame Duck Test Tunisia Turkey UAE Accord UCI UK UN UNDP unesco unhrc UNICEF United Arab Emirates Unity unrwa UNRWA hate unrwa reports UNRWA-USA unwra vaccination Varda Vic Rosenthal Washington wikileaks Winstanley work accident X-washing Y. Ben-David Yemen YMikarov zahran Ziesel zionist attack zoo Zionophobia Ziophobia Zvi

Blog Archive