Boris Tsitlionok in Siberia, n.d.
February 23-25. First World Conference on Soviet Jewry opens in Brussels attended by 800 delegates from 38 countries, and included prominent Israeli leaders David Ben Gurion and Menachem Begin.. Moscow launches a media campaign against the event. Rabbi Meir Kahane, a non-delegate and founder of the Jewish Defense League, seeks entry, but is ejected by security personnel. The JDL is not a member of any Soviet Jewry coordinating body. The meeting adopts the Brussels Declaration with a commitment to strengthen the advocacy movement, including a World Conference on Soviet Jewry to coordinate efforts.
March. As a follow up to the Brussels Conference an International Consultation on Soviet Jewry is held in London, focusing on the broad advocacy effort and the principle of the Right to Leave.
April. Jewish activists in the USSR issue "The White Book of Exodus", with scores of personal letters and appeals. It is smuggled out and then published by the American Jewish Conference on Soviet Jewry.
June 6. Adoption of a proposal by major Jewish national organizations and local Jewish federations and community relations councils in the US to reorganize the AJCSJ, to be renamed the National Conference on Soviet Jewry. The idea of a separate New York City entity is also approved, leading to the creation of the Greater New York Conference on Soviet Jewry.December. Linked to Hanukkah and the struggle for freedom, an inter-organization Freedom Lights for Soviet Jewry rally fills New York's Madison Square Garden, and receives major publicity.
April. On "Solidarity Sunday", thousands participate in a large scale, public demonstration for Soviet Jews in Dag Hammerskjold Plaza near the United Nations. Sponsored by the Greater New York Conference on Soviet Jewry, in cooperation with the National Conference on Soviet Jewry, over 100 local communities across the country organize saimilar demonstrations. The annual New York City event is then organized by the GNYCSJ, later renamed the Coalition to Free Soviet Jews, and continues to 1988.
May 22-30. President Richard M. Nixon is in Moscow for a summit meeting with Leonid Brezhnev; Jewish activists are detained in prison during the meeting. The subject of Soviet Jewry dominates press conferences.
July 3. Supreme Soviet of the USSR introduces higher education levy on emigrants, ostensibly to recoup education costs, but seen by advocacy groups throughout the world as a "ransom" tax meant to deter Jews seeking to leave for Israel. Word of the tax stirs protests in the West.
September 16. In an unusual act of defiance, 200 Jews in Moscow file a l16-point document on emigration procedures with the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet.
September 25-26. Following the "ransom tax" a National Assembly is convened at B'nai B'rith HQ, Washington, DC. Senator Henry "Scoop" Jackson proposes legislation linking access to trade benefits for "non-market" (i.e. communist) nations to liberalizing their emigration practices.
October 4. Senator Henry M. Jackson submits a provisional form of his amendment in the Senate..
October 31. A 2-page ad in the New York Times denounces the emigration tax and supports Jewish academics and scientists unable to work in the Soviet Union. It is signed by 10,000 academics from over 100 campuses. Sponsored by the Academic Committee for Soviet Jews, the ad is the largest expression by US academics on behalf of a political or social issue.
February 7. Congressman Charles Vanik co-sponsors legislation similar to that of Sen. Jackson in the House of Representatives.
March 11-14. US Treasury Secretary George Shultz visits Moscow, following a meeting with Leonid Brezhnev, who claims education tax was dropped.
March 15. Senator Henry M. Jackson submits final version of amendment linking trade between the US and non-market (communist) countries to the issue of free emigration.
March 21. The Soviet Union provides an unsigned letter to President Richard M. Nixon cancelling the "Education Tax."
April 19. 15 Jewish leaders meet with President Richard M. Nixon who argues against support for the Jackson-Vanik Amendment which he sees as an obstacle to détente between the two super powers.
May 2-9. New York's Mayor, John Lindsay, visits Moscow and discusses Jewish emigration with Soviet officials.
May 4-8. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, on a visit to Moscow, transmits to Soviet officials a list of more than 700 Jews repeatedly refused exit visas.
June 17. Leonid Brezhnev arrives in Washington, D.C. for a meeting with President Richard M. Nixon and is greeted by a demonstration of nearly 13,000 people condemning Moscow's policies towards its Jewish minority. Noted actor and folk singer Theodore Bikel, together with the African-American civil rights leader Bayard Rustin, lead a protest march to the Soviet Embassy.
"Solidarity Sunday" march, 1972. Photo:GNYCSJ