The Fault Lines of Freedom: The Division and Devlopment of the Soviet Jewry Movement in the United States

Davis, Michael A. P.

On the morning of December 6, 1987, 250,000 people swarmed the U.S. National Mall.1 Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev was to arrive the following day to meet with President Ronald Reagan for a new set of talks that marked a warming in the seemingly interminable Cold War. A future recipient of the Nobel Prize and Time’s person of the decade, Gorbachev had entranced the Western world as a great compromiser who had brought communism with a human face to the Eastern Bloc and the potential of world peace in the face of nuclear apocalypse.2 However, the quarter-million people on the frozen National Mall did not care about Gorbachev’s public image. They wanted him to make a commitment that the millions of Jewish people who had suffered decades of state-sponsored antiSemitism in the U.S.S.R. would be granted increased religious freedom and the right to emigrate. Chants of “Let my people go!” echoed throughout the National Mall over the course of the day, a phrase that had been the clarion call for many of these people for almost thirty years.


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The Journal of Politics and Society

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Helvidius Group of Columbia University
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April 26, 2016