BBG Watch History

A Fourth of July Story

Independence Day is doubly special for the legendary refusenik Natan Sharansky and his family. He sits down for a wide-ranging interview about his wife Avital, love among Jewish people, and the promise of freedom. He mentions the importance of the Voice of America (VOA) to the Soviet refuseniks during the Cold War.
When did you first become aware that there were Jews in the Soviet Union who wanted to emigrate to Israel?

Here and there we heard something, from the Voice of America and so on.

Could you follow the trial in the newspaper and the radios?

Oh no. In the newspaper, there were only one or two big articles about the criminals and their sentences. But at the same time there were a lot of press conferences and public statements of loyal Soviet citizens, of those who were considered to be loyal who had to declare their loyalty. What we did discover, was that through the Voice of America, and through BBC, and Voice of Israel, in spite of jamming, you could hear the reports, information about the trials.

When did you become aware of the activities of Jacob Birnbaum and others who were organizing rallies and demonstrations in the West?

During those days of the trial, we heard that Jews all over the world are demonstrating, in spite of the jamming of the broadcasts of Voice of Israel and the Voice of America and others.

READ MORE: A Fourth of July Story, By David Samuels, Tablet, June 30, 2016