Presentations (Communicative Events)

Jewish Emigration from Russia and the Soviet Union

Frye, Timothy M.

Jewish emigration from the Soviet Union in the 1970s is best understood as occurring against the backdrop of the normalization of relations between the two superpowers. While Jewish dissidents in the USSR played a heroic role in raising the issue in the 1960s and 1970s, it was the détente between the US and USSR that made large scale Jewish emigration from the Soviet Union a reality. In this period, Jewish emigration to the United States became a bargaining chip for the Soviet Union that was, in a sense, used to buy concessions from the United States on other contentious issues. The period 1972 to 1979 was the high point of détente between the superpowers. It also marked the peak of Jewish emigration from the USSR. With the collapse of the Soviet, the issue of Jewish emigration moved from the arena of high politics to the more mundane level of bureaucratic and personal politics. In the 1990s, Jewish emigration increased dramatically from the levels of the 1980s, but largely ceased to be a high profile issue that garnered the attention of the media and foreign policymakers.


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Harriman Institute
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September 6, 2013