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Struggle For Soviet Jewry In American Politics

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Overview

Until 1989 most Soviet Jews wanting to immigrate to the United States left on visas for Israel via Vienna. In Vienna, with the assistance of American aid organizations, thousands of Soviet Jews transferred to Rome and applied for refugee entry into the United States. The Struggle for Soviet Jewry in American Politics examines the conflict between the Israeli government and the organized American Jewish community over the final destination of Soviet Jewish émigrés between 1967 and 1989. A generation after the Holocaust, a battle surrounded the thousands of Soviet Jewish émigrés fleeing persecution by choosing to resettle in the United States instead of Israel. Exploring the changing ethnic identity and politics of the United States, Fred A. Lazin engages history, ethical dilemma, and diplomacy to uncover the events surrounding this conflict. This book is essential reading for students and scholars of public policy, immigration studies, and Jewish history.

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Editorial Reviews

CHOICE - J. Fischel
Lazin has written an indispensable study of the U.S. Jewish community's struggle on behalf of Soviet Jewry. . . . Highly recommended.
Jews and The Sporting Life: Studies In Contemporary Jewry - Jerome A. Chanes
Fred Lazin's well-researched narrative, The Struggle for Soviet Jewry in American politics, is the most comprehensive work to date on this central issue in Israeli-U.S. diaspora relations.... Until 1967, Israelis were far better informed than their American Jewish counterparts about the situation of Soveit Jews. This important point, which is well developed by Lazin, has been overlooked by most historians of Soviet Jewry. Lazin is also very good in his general discussion regarding the 'turf issues' at the core of his book.... An important contribution. It will broaden and deepen our understanding—and appreciation—of a time in which the American Jewish communal agenda, and American Jewry's relationship with the state of Israel, moved in radically new directions.
Princeton N. Lyman
Fred Lazin's book covers one of the great humanitarian campaigns of our time. But even beyond the struggle over the fate of Soviet Jewry, it provides wonderful insight into the ways in which humanitarian impulse, public policy, and civic society come together in America. Lazin has provided a valuable account of how the system can work when there is sufficient good will and dedication to do the right thing.
Henry Feingold
Future researchers of the Soviet Jewry movement in America are given much to build on in this exquisitely researched study that touches all bases of this complex subject. Researchers in this area cannot afford to ignore this work.
Ira Katznelson
This thoughtful, deeply-researched book about the politics that affected the destination of Soviet Jewish émigrés powerfully illuminates key issues characterizing the relationship between governments, organizations, and communities in Israel and the United States. Written by an accomplished scholar at home in both countries, it makes important contributions to our understanding, among other subjects, of immigration, ethnicity, advocacy groups, ideological conflict, and political entrepreneurship.
Joel D. Aberbach
This important study focuses on the American Jewish community and the ways it tried to influence U.S. policy on Soviet Jewry, often in conflict with the views of the government of Israel. It makes a significant contribution to understanding the influence of organized groups generally, and provides particularly fascinating material for those interested in the complexities of Jewish politics and communal life in the United States.
Kenneth D. Wald
In this important new study, Fred Lazin lays bare the tensions and contradictions embodied in the 'We Are One' slogan deployed by American Jews to signal solidarity with Israel. Rather than bow to Israel's strong desire to channel all Soviet Jewish refugees its way, American Jewish leaders initially demanded that immigrants select their own destination. When it eventually became clear that the costs of settling so many refugees in the United States would overwhelm local federations, only then did the US Jewish leadership accept a cap on Soviet Jewish immigrants. As Lazin shows, this decisive event marked a kind of declaration of independence of American Jewry, an assertion that its interests, rather than Israel's, would automatically govern community priorities.
Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal Of Jewish Studies
Fred A. Lazin has written an interesting and informative account of how both the United States and Israel responded to the issue of Soviet immigrant Jews. It is a detailed book based extraordinary research into the archives… . Lazin has written a rich book, throwing much light on a complex issue.
Choice
Lazin has written an indispensable study of the U.S. Jewish community's struggle on behalf of Soviet Jewry. . . . Highly recommended.
— J. Fischel, Emeritus, Millersville University
Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal Of Jewish Studies
Fred A. Lazin has written an interesting and informative account of how both the United States and Israel responded to the issue of Soviet immigrant Jews. It is a detailed book based extraordinary research into the archives… . Lazin has written a rich book, throwing much light on a complex issue.
American Jewish History
Meticulously documented through access to the extensive archives of the Jewish Agency and through interviews with many of the key players, [Lazin's] case study provides new insights into the growth and political maturity of the American Jewish community.
Jews and The Sporting Life: Studies In Contemporary Jewry
Fred Lazin's well-researched narrative, The Struggle for Soviet Jewry in American politics, is the most comprehensive work to date on this central issue in Israeli-U.S. diaspora relations.... Until 1967, Israelis were far better informed than their American Jewish counterparts about the situation of Soveit Jews. This important point, which is well developed by Lazin, has been overlooked by most historians of Soviet Jewry. Lazin is also very good in his general discussion regarding the 'turf issues' at the core of his book.... An important contribution. It will broaden and deepen our understanding—and appreciation—of a time in which the American Jewish communal agenda, and American Jewry's relationship with the state of Israel, moved in radically new directions.
— Jerome A. Chanes, 2008, XXIII
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780739108420
  • Publisher: Lexington Books
  • Publication date: 4/19/2005
  • Series: Studies in Public Policy Series
  • Pages: 370
  • Product dimensions: 0.94 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 9.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Fred A. Lazin is the Lynn and Lloyd Hurst Family Professor of Local Government at Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva, Israel.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Introduction Chapter 2 Putting the Soviet Jewry Issue on the Public Agenda in the United States: From Indifference to the Jackson-Vanik Amendment Chapter 3 Freedom of Choice and the Committee of Eight: Israel Versus the American Jewish Establishment Chapter 4 Round Two of the Freedom of Choice Debate: The Israelis Fail Again Chapter 5 The 1980s: The Soviet Jewry Advocacy Movement is Kept Alive Chapter 6 The Reagan Gorbachev Summits: Moving Toward a Resolution of the Soviet Jewry Issue Chapter 7 The Conflict over Turf in the American Soviet Jewry Advocacy Movement: The Dominance of the CJF Chapter 8 The Final Struggle over Soviet Jewish Emigration: A Quota that Ended the Freedom of Choice Debate Chapter 9 American Jews, Soviet Jewry Advocacy, Israel and American Politics: American Jewish Leaders Redefine Their Political Interests

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