THE STORY OF THE JEWISH DEFENSE LEAGUE Page 30
Chapter 1: Soviet Jewry: I Am My Brother’s Keeper
 
 
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30 The Story of the Jewish Defense League

band “disgraceful,” and the JDL again applauded the bomb bact. In the words of Bert Zweibon, “We are no longer pre- bpared to rely upon world conscience and morality alone. It bhas too often been mute in our defense.”

bThe next day two American diplomats’ cars were van- bdalized and embassy officials accosted in the streets in Mos- bcow. Relations between the two countries were steadily de- bteriorating and that same day we gave an added push to the bdownhill momentum. With forty JDL members, I stood on bthe block of the Soviet Mission and announced that teams bwere being formed to “follow, question, and harass” Soviet bdiplomats in the city. I frankly told the press that our pur- bpose was to provoke a crisis in Soviet-American relations bthat would stop the two countries from “building bridges bover Jewish bodies.” “The life of every Russian here will be bmade miserable,” I concluded.

bAt that moment, another meeting concerning Soviet Jews bwas being held. At Manhattan Center, more than five bthousand yeshiva students overflowed the hall for a prayer bmeeting for the Jews of Russia. Two important points con- bcerning this deserve to be raised. One was the fact that our bforty-man demonstration at the mission received page-one btreatment in the Times with a picture and headline that read b“Jewish Defense League Plans to Harass Russians.” The bprayer meeting received one paragraph at the bottom of the bJDL story. So much for how to get press coverage. Point bTwo was the phenomenon of the prayer meeting itself.

bThe leading Orthodox rabbis had been as vehement in btheir denunciations of JDL activities as any others. In the bwords of the Zeirei Agudath Yisroel, quoting, they claimed, bthe leading yeshiva deans, “Every manifestation concerning bRussia which is provocative and arrogrant is a highly bdangerous act which can harm many.” The Lubavicher bRebbe, one of the leading Hassidic rabbis, was reported to bhave said:

b“These demonstrations have tragic implications to the bJews. I have concrete evidence that hundreds, even bthousands, have been exiled only as a result of these adverse bactions from the outside.”

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THE STORY OF THE JEWISH DEFENSE LEAGUE Page 30
Chapter 1: Soviet Jewry: I Am My Brother’s Keeper