Justice יולי נודלמן Juli Nudelmann
יולי נודלמן-צדק לכל Закон
יום ד', כ’ באדר ב' תשע”ט
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This article is interesting as a document of the history of emigration from the USSR and the mutual misunderstanding between new residents and old residents when new emigrants bearing a Soviet mentality clashed with followers of the Soviet system in Israel

This article is interesting as a document of the history of emigration from the USSR and the mutual misunderstanding between new residents and old residents when new emigrants bearing a Soviet mentality clashed with followers of the Soviet system in Israel An Analysis of the Beer-Sheva new immigrants Revolt Anti-Democracy and Soviet Immigrants Jerusalem Post, Aug. 16, 1973 By Juli Nudelmann (Dr. Juli Nudelmann, a staff surgeon at the Rambam Hospital in Haifa, has been active in the affairs of Soviet immigrants since he arrived just over two years ago. At the second convention of the Association of immigrants from the Soviet Union held in Beer-Sheva earlier this month, the rebellious minority made it clear that it regarded him as their spokesman. In this article, he attempts to analyse the background and direct causes of the “revolt” in Beer-Sheva). A revolt against anti-democracy. When I attempt to analyse the events that transpired at the convention of Soviet immigrants in Beer-Sheva, this is how I would like to characterize the events. What did in fact occur in Beer-Sheva, and what caused the heated Israeli public reaction? Was it a revolt by newcomers against the established residents? A big for power and political influence by some particular group of active immigrants? A provocation by an opposition party? I can categorically declare that it was neither the one, the other, nor the third. It was precisely because that which occurred would not fit into the usual Israeli pattern of similar events that they raised such a public storm. What caused both surprise and puzzlement was the absence of evidence that any political party supported the “rebels”, and the “revolt” itself was sparked by the rejection of a situation wherein inter-party strife, bargaining and horse-trading was being waged under cover of democratic slogans. Let me start with a rhetorical question: Do newcomers from the U.S.S.R. have a right to speak anti-democratic methods and preach democracy, so to say, to the Israeli public? It seems to me that, however paradoxical the situation, one may in all seriousness assert that immigrants from the Soviet Union can the better judge just what is anti-democratic for having lived their entire lives under an anti-democratic regime. Because it has made us especially sensitive to any violation of democracy, and taught us to discern such violations more rapidly than is possible for Jew born in Israel, who lack a comparative basis for quick judgment. I believe that the spontaneous outburst at the convention constituted the newcomers protest against the undemocratic conduct of the Association’s affairs both in the pre-convention period and at the convention itself. How was it undemocratic? Let me give a number of facts. Faulty Registration Registration of immigrants was carried out six months before the opening of the convention. Immigrants who arrived after January 31, 1973 were thus excluded. That is to say, it was determined in advance that the best informed, “freshest”, and most active section of immigrants from the U.S.S.R. would not participate in the list of delegates or the work of the convention. The registration was carried out formally, often to the exclusion of those whose “loyalty” to the Association’s structure was suspect, while the homes of certain known “critics” were simply by-passed. Entire areas were omitted from the registration and there was no announcement in the press of its progress or purpose. The outgoing committee suggested that would-be candidates collect 30 signatures for their nomination. This almost assured that a newcomer busy at his job, beset by routine daily chores, could not submit his candidature without the Association’s help. The entire process was entrusted to the Association’s local branches operated by nominees. These presented lists of candidates who had been agreed on in advance by the various political parties. And since almost every branch is in the hands of either one or two of the ruling parties, it is not hard to imagine what motivated the nomination of candidates. For the sake of appearances, however, they included a number of newcomers active in immigrant affairs. It was thus predetermined that candidates would be elected without proper elections. The date of the elections was postponed several times, notices about the changes were vague, and as a result the overwhelming majority of even those immigrants who were registered failed to vote. Those who did take an active part included a particular section of old party functionaries, while a fleet of cars transported “trustworthy” immigrants to the voting booths. “Kibbutznik” Delegates In addition, a good number of people who had never set foot on the territory of the U.S.S.R. were simply issued mandates as delegates without participating in the elections – a party assignment, so to say. The day the convention opened, July 30, 90 kibbutzniks were taken from their work and brought to Beer-Sheba as delegates. I was elected chairman of the organizing committee of the convention because I was the only non-party immigrant present at the committee’s first meeting, and it was considered expedient to have a politically unaffiliated chairman. When, subsequently, I began to take the position seriously and attempted to organize the committee’s work properly, I found that certain information was being withheld from me, including the progress of the elections, reports of the Association’s activities, and particularly of its financial standing. When I demanded access to such information, Mr.Yona Kesse actually threatened me, warning that I would “not do well in Israel.” I submitted many letters both to the committee and the leadership of the Association, addressed by immigrants to me and to the Russian-language press and complaining about registration and election procedures. But I was shut up by methods almost reminiscent of Soviet demagogy and the letters were dismissed out of hand. (I was pointedly informed that “we do not read the Russian-language press”- this from people who wish to represent immigration from the Soviet Union!) There was more of the same when the convention opened. When I asked to be recognized, so that I could tell the delegates about events preceding the convention, I was denied access to the microphone and Beni Marshak, who heads the immigration department in the Labour Party’s central committee, shouted at me in the best Kesse tradition, to the effect that I would find neither work nor a home in Israel. (Incidentally, last week I was informed by Amidar in Haifa that it would not sell me the apartment allocated to my family because a letter has been received from the Ministry of Absorption to the effect that I am believed to be leaving the country. Thus are the unruly democratically gagged?) Following the statement made by Yaakov Shiloni, chairman of the mandates committee, and the declaration by Sergei Mentsovsky (of Kibbutz Givat Hashlosha) that he was issued a delegate’s card without being elected by any one, it became clear to all that the convention as constituted could not be considered lawful. But even with this crystal clear, the functionaries still decided to resort to the voting machine, stuffed with false mandates, in order to play out the “democratic comedy” to the end. The second reason lies in the conflicting approaches to the aims of the Association. We newcomers are in principle opposed to all immigrant associations, believing that they interfere with the process of uniting us into a single people. I tend to believe that if a man continues to cling to an immigrants association 40 or 50 years after his arrival in the country, then he has not become absorbed and still considers himself an immigrant. But if he must continue to belong to the organization, then why aspire to its ruling body? To what purpose? The implementation of party instructions? To play political football with immigrant problems? We will not agree to this! Defence of Rights We, immigrants from the Soviet Union, are perfectly capable of representing ourselves and running our own organization, and have no wish to delegate these functions to people having nothing in common with our mentality and our problems. Until Israel’s trade union movement undertakes the defence of the immigrant as a temporary worker, we need an organization whose representatives will protect us from arbitrary actions by employers, and assue equitable application of absorption processes by the Jewish Agency to the Absorption Ministry. Must we transfer the defence of our interests to some other party? Furthermore, the defence of immigrants’ interests as practiced by the “veterans” is based on protection, contacts and other such devious means. We want to defend our rights in our own country on the basis of legality. Therein lies the difference between what we want and what is being imposed on us by undemocratic means. This is what brought about our protest – a protest not against participation by veterans in the absorption process, but against their methods. What occurred was a natural human reaction against an ugly anti-democratic comedy, by people who fervently desire a democratic motherland. These are the facts behind the events in Beer-Sheba. I personally believe that the conclusions which the politicians must draw from them will benefit the cause of immigration to Israel.

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