Pauline Peretz undertakes the arduous task of throwing light onto the complex struggle of the Soviet Jews. During the period 1948-1991, 1.3 million Soviet Jews miraculously escaped their country and growing discrimination under the Kremlin’s regime. This mass exodus would not have been possible without the mobilization of a large community of Israeli and American Jews.
Peretz focuses on the role of Nativ, a secret bureau created by the Israelis based in Tel-Aviv to maintain contact with the Jews living in the Eastern bloc during the Cold War. This covert organization aimed to increase the flow of Soviet Jews to Israel. Nativ did indeed succeed in maintaining amicable relations between Moscow and Tel-Aviv but this period was soon over by the early 1950s, as Stalin and his successors turned increasingly inward. Nativ then decided to transfer to the United States. A complicated dialogue between the US, Israel and the USSR ensued as conflicting interests came into play. What was not known at the time is whether American Jews were prepared to strengthen the fight for the Soviet Jews even at the risk of being accused of double allegiance. This major shift of responsibility to the US had ramifications in all areas of US policy here and abroad.
Pauline Peretz’s original history of the role the US, Israel, and Russia played in the post World War II diaspora of the Soviet Jews is based on irrefutable evidence that remained until now largely undiscovered.