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Involvement in the Soviet Jewry Movement — by Louis Rosenblum
The Government of Israel — The Elephant in the Room
Blush Off the Rose

Blush Off the Rose

The year 1967 was a crucial year. Israel’s victory in the Six-Day war markedly enhanced its geopolitical position in the region and the euphoria over Israel’s victory emboldened a number of Soviet Jews to publicly press for permission to leave for Israel. And, on a personal level, the year 1967 marked the onset of a rift with the Office. Early in September, Nehemyah phoned — he wished to come to Cleveland and discuss a new undertaking. On the 17th, over lunch at a local Cleveland restaurant, he confided that he had $10,000 to invest in informing Americans about the religious and cultural plight of Soviet Jews. To accomplish this he planned set up a national academic committee to publicize the issue. He said, “I have in mind one of my boys, Allen Pollack,” to head the committee. Further, he declared that he wanted me to assume a prominent role on the committee. For me, Nehemyah’s offer was a nonstarter. I was convinced that my free time — outside my NASA job — should be spent managing the operation of the CCSA and cultivating growth of grass root Soviet Jewry groups in other cities. And that’s what I told him. He was visibly upset. For another hour he tenaciously argued the merits of his scheme and why I should be part of it — unsuccessfully. Finally we parted — he in a decidedly sour mood.

Here was a side of Nehemyah I hadn’t witnessed before. This little affair gave me pause. How odd: Levanon, Israeli Counselor Minister (third highest rank in the Israeli Embassy), confiding his plans to me and insisting that I — a low-level NASA research manager — be part of his blue ribbon group; and, to top it off, his petulant reaction to my refusal.

December 2nd — two and a half months later — Nehemyah flew back to Cleveland to try again, this time accompanied by Zvi Netzer. Their pitch was that the Academic Committee on Soviet Jewry was now in formation and an eminent sociologist, Nathan Glazer, had been persuaded to head it up. Would I reconsider? I would not. By now I was sure that Nehemyah’s intent was control and the ‘academic committee’ business (at least as far as I was concerned) was aimed at co-option of a maverick American activist.

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© 2009 Louis Rosenblum

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