THE STORY OF THE JEWISH DEFENSE LEAGUE Page 16
Chapter 1: Soviet Jewry: I Am My Brother’s Keeper
 
 
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16 The Story of the Jewish Defense League

bUnlike others, we understood very well that these could be baffected by even a small handful of dedicated and stubborn bpeople.

bWe look upon it as axiomatic that nations work on the bprinciple of self-interest. That which is good for the nation bis the principle to be followed. What was good for the Soviet bUnion, we asked ourselves? What did the Soviets want more bthan anything, more than they wanted to keep Soviet Jews bfrom emigrating? What could we harm and threaten that bthey wanted so much and so badly that they would have bto—despite themselves—free Soviet Jews? That was the key bquestion and that, we knew, was the key to the Soviet Jewish bproblem.

bThe answer was clear. The Soviets—and the Americans— bconsidered coexistence, détente, the building of bridges bbetween East and West, to be the most important thing bin their order of priorities. The Russians desperately bwanted good relations with the Americans in order to get bbadly need technological knowledge, trade, and dollars. At bthe same time, the easing of tensions on their western flank bwould allow them to turn their attention and military might bto the real enemy, the Chinese. This was what the Russians bneeded and what they valued more than anything belse—even more than Soviet Jews. If this were so, we de- bcided, then the Russians would be willing to pay, however bgrudgingly, only if their great prize, détente, were threat- bened. We decided to threaten it, to tell the Russians that if bthey wanted to build their bridges to the West they would bhave to pay for it—in Jews.

bMore than the myopic little Jewish leaders, the Russians band the Americans knew how vulnerable détente was. They bunderstood that a few fanatics could undo all the laborious bwork of the diplomats. The Soviets, after all, were hardly bLuxembourg; they could not quietly accept attacks, humilia- btions, and—who knew?—assassinations of their diplomats. bWhat would happen if a fanatical Jew shot Yakov Malik? It bwas not that the Russians cared about Yakov Malik the man, bbut Malik the Soviet representative to the United Nations brepresented prestige and national honor, and there was a b 

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THE STORY OF THE JEWISH DEFENSE LEAGUE Page 16
Chapter 1: Soviet Jewry: I Am My Brother’s Keeper