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December 02, 1983 - Image 31

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1983-12-02

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Israelis Plead for Major Pulbic Campaign
for Release of Soviet Prisoner Yosef Begun

By SANDRA COHEN

tions." He was sentenced to
another three years' exile.
JERUSALEM — Singing
Through these last 12
"Hatikva" is a painful ex- years, Begun has be-
perience for me today. lieved that by spreading
Standing among thousands his knowledge of He-
on this grassy knoll over- brew, Soviet Jews could
looking the Knesset, I have be motivated to go to Is-
come to express solidarity rael. Dr. Haim Margulis,
with prisoner of Zion Yosef a former student of Be-
Begun.
gun, who now lives in Is-
I ache with the knowledge rael, says that "Begun
that as I stand here, free in feared that those choos-
my land and with my ing to remain in the USSR
people, Begun's only dream would be lost through as-
to live a full life as a Jew in similiation if left ignorant
his homeland has pointed of their heritage.
consistently to years of re-
"He dedicated himself to
lentless persecution. Now,
at 51, he faces 12 years of infusing in them a knowl-
prison and exile. The preci- edge of and love for their
ous words of our national roots through the teaching
not only of Hebrew, but also
anthem echo in my ear.
I grip the pure essence of of Jewish literature, history
my freedom, and I suffer and tradition. His outlook
with Yosef Begun the sinful was based on two concepts:
injustice which torments that every Jew has the fun-
damental right to live in Is-
him.
What went on trial in a rael, and that Jews
Soviet court in Vladmir everywhere have the right
was not Begun the man, to live a full Jewish life."
Margulis first met Begun
but the Hebrew lan-
guage; and the charge of in 1973, just six months
"anti-Soviet propaganda prior to his aliya. They were
and instigation" was, in introduced at the tradi-
fact, simply the teaching tional weekly gathering
of Hebrew and Jewish outside the synagogue in
culture. For that, Begun Moscow where Margulis
has been sentenced to asked friends to recommend
seven years in prison and a Hebrew teacher. • •
another five years in
The ensuing months of
Siberia.
lessons with-Begun were
Private teaching is a rec- not just academic in nature.
ognized profession in the "For two or three hours we
Soviet Union. One can teach would also speak of our
English, Spanish, French or dreams," recalls Margulis,
Chinese, but for the teach- "of our hope for a future life
ing of Hebrew, the in Israel, of how we would
authorities have ominous live there and what we
unwritten instructions would do in our respective
making it the forbidden fields."
language.
Begun knew the awe-
Begun turned to private some danger of his work.
teaching following sys- "He was always aware
tematic harassment by the that he could end up in
authorities. As a result of prison," says Margulis.
his first application for "Nevertheless, he con-
emigration to Israel in tinued." Today Margulis
1971, he lost his job as an works intensely for Be-
engineer and was dismissed gun's freedom. "Demon-
from the Moscow Engineer- strations are essential,"
ing Institute where he was he insists, "for - when
doing post-doctoral re- Jews in Russia hear on
search. He was forced to Kol Israel that hundreds
earn a living from any work or thousands come out in
possible — a telephone solidarity, it reinforces
operator, a night watchman their feeling that we are
or a porter, but was thrown united in their struggle.
out of every job. This im- They have to know that
possible situation ulti-
we are waiting for them,
mately led to the charge of that this is their home."
"parasitism."
Though quiet diplomacy
At the end of his two-year does play a certain role, he
exile in Siberia, Begun re-
says, "it is beneficial only as
sumed teaching and was long as it does not com-
again arrested, this time ac- promise on basic principles.
cused of "gross violation of In the long run, I believe
internal passport regula- that open pressure is more

World Zionist Press Service

effective."
Petitions signed by gov-
ernment officials,
worldwide demonstrations,
the cry of the media — these
are all sources of embar-
rassment to the Soviet lead-
ership, and because they are
sensitive to this, we should
openly voice our outrage.
The Zionist Executive has
launched an all-out cam-
paign to activate the WZO
and Jewish opinion
everywhere.
The Israel Public Council
for Soviet Jewry has been
actively promoting the
cause of prisoners of Zion,
calling for demonstrations,
organizing home meetings
and correspondence with re-
fusniks.



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BONN (JTA) — German
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no final decision has been
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