Australia and the Struggle for Soviet Jewry: 1961–1972


  • Suzanne D. Rutland

    1. University of Sydney
    Search for more papers by this author
    • Research for this project was carried out with the assistance of a grant from the Australian Prime Ministers Centre.


The plight of Soviet Jewry emerged as a major issue for World Jewry after the Second World War. Both Israel and Jewish Diaspora communities campaigned to give Soviet Jews either freedom of religion or the right to emigrate. The 1960s saw the promotion of the latter, with the slogan “Let My People Go”. Whilst geographically isolated and only being a medium power, the Australian government played a key role, with Australian politicians at times acting against the advice of the public service. The politicians were swayed by idealism, whereas department officials pursued a pragmatic, realist approach, being only concerned with what they saw as Australia's core foreign policy interests.