During the Cold War, Soviet Jews were suspected of being traitors. The Communist leadership closed Jewish organisations and declared Zionism an ideological enemy. As a result of the state-sponsored persecution, anti-Semitism grew: many Soviet Jews suffered hardships, ranging from not being allowed to enlist in universities to being sent to the gulag. For the three critical decades, between 1959 and 1989, Australian Jews and their community leaders were deeply involved in the international campaign to enable Soviet Jews to leave the Soviet Union. Australian politicians (including Bob Hawke, Garfield Barwick, Malcolm Fraser and William Wentworth), joined human rights activists and opinion leaders in the campaign. Australia played a role above and beyond what might be expected from a middle-ranking nation with limited international influence. But the lead actor was Isi Leibler. His involvement and leadership with the refuseniks and Soviet Jews, merit this full account from an Australian Jewish perspective - and the campaign eventually led to the emigration of over a million Jews to Israel.
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