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dinners_and_ceremonies
Justin Vaisse, Neoconservatism. The Biography of a movement (Cambridge: HUP, 2010) - Companion website to the book

Dinners and ceremonies organized by the Coalition for a Democratic Majority in support of Communist dissidents (1975-1980) and original invitation to a “Human Rights dinner” in New York (30 September 1978)


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26 January 1978

CDM 1977 Human Rights Award

Washington, DC
On CDM's fifth birthday, a “CDM Human Rights Award” is given by Bayard Rustin to Lyudmila Alekseeva, representing the Soviet Helsinki Monitors. Another special award is given to Valentin Turchin, founder of the Moscow chapter of Amnesty International. During the dinner, two messages from Soviet dissidents are read publicly: one from Andrei Sakharov, and the other from a group of six of the then-dissolved Helsinki monitors (Yelena Bonner, Sof'Ya Kalistratova, Naum Neyman, Viktor Nikipelov, Tat'Yana Osipova, Valdimir Slepak).
Here is Sakharov's message: “I congratulate the Coalition for a Democratic Majority on its fifth birthday. […] We greatly value your support for the human rights movement in the USSR and the countries of Eastern Europe. The honorary award to the groups for implementation of the Helsinki accords in the USSR is yet another manifestation of this support.”
Two others messages are read publicly, one by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (who says that it is the first award honoring prisoners from the gulag archipelago), and the other from Jimmy Carter (who assures the audience that human rights will always be at the heart of his foreign policy) ; Pat Moynihan and Scoop Jackson also deliver speeches.
The ceremony is taped and broadcast on Radio Liberty, Radio Free Europe and Voice of America, to support the dissidents who have access to these radios. More than 600 people attend the dinner despite the snowstorm blowing in the region.
30 September 1978

Human Rights Dinner

Waldorf Astoria hotel
New York city

(see full invitation below)
This dinner is also held in honor of the 58 Soviet Helsinki monitors – especially Yuri Orlov, Anatoly Shcharansky (a.k.a. Nathan Sharansky), Aleksandr Ginzburg, Mykola Rudenko, Oleksiy Tykhy, Myroslav Marinovych, Mykola Matusevich, Vladimir Slepak, Merab Kostava, Malva Landa, Anatoly Marchenko, Edvard Arutyunian and Viktoras Petkus) and to launch a campaign to nominate them for the 1978 Nobel Peace Prize.
The master of ceremony is Ben Wattenberg, while Scoop Jackson, Pat Moynihan and Lane Kirkland are the official hosts of the dinner. Norman Podhoretz, Bayard Rustin and Jeane Kirkpatrick also give short addresses.
More than 500 people attend the dinner, and it is a very successful fund-raising event for CDM, with a $55,000 operating budget.
In March 1979, during one of its executive committee meetings, CDM hosts Avital Shcharansky, a Jewish immigrant to Israel who campaigns for the liberation of her husband, Anatoly Shcharansky (Nathan Sharansky). CDM helps her organize pressure on Soviet authorities.
12 June 1979

Friends of Freedom Awards Dinner

Hyatt Regency hotel
Washington, DC
During this dinner, several personalities or organizations who have defended “the cause of liberty” are being honored by CDM:
- AFL-CIO, and more precisely George Meany and Lane Kirkland, for their fight in favor of free trade unions and democracy worldwide.
- The Wall Street Journal, and more precisely Robert Bartley, for his editorial line systematically defending human rights.
- Freedom House, and more precisely its president, Senator Clifford Case (who created a “Helsinki commission” on the Hill).
- C. Harrison Dogole (Sonny Dogole), who is one of the main fund-raisers for CDM and the late Hubert Humphrey (his commitment in favor of the fight against cancer is mentioned, as well as awards and decorations he got from the state of Israel).
- Vladimir Bukovsky, a dissident arrested in the USSR in 1963 and sent to a psychiatric hospital, then sentenced to 12 years in prison, finally released in 1976.
- Aleksandr Ginzburg, a dissident freshly arrived in the United States, who set up a “Russians Prisoners Aid Fund” to help the families of political prisoners.
- Charles Malik, a Lebanese philospher and diplomat who had helped drafting the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and who became a defender of the Christian cause and democracy in the Lebanese civil war.
- The wife of Huber Matos, a Cuban dissident imprisoned in Havana who had fought Batista alongside Fidel Castro but had tried to counter his fellow revolutionaries' drift towards marxism.
- Benjamin Netanyahu, representing his brother Yonatan, head of an Israeli special forces commando who liberated the hostages of an Air France flight hijacked by Palestinian terrorists to Entebbe in 1976, and who got killed in the raid.
- Vladimir Bukovsky, this time on behalf of Ida Nudel, a refusenik who brought medicine and other items to fellow imprisoned Soviet dissidents and publicized their cause, before being arrested.
8 November 1979

Savimbi Breakfast

Washington, DC
A breakfast to honor Jonas Savimbi, the leader of UNITA, an Angolan political and guerilla movement supported by South Africa and the United States in its fight against the MPLA governement – a marxist group supported by the USSR and Cuba which prevailed after the successful war of decolonization against Portugal in 1975. Savimbi would soon be considered as a “freedom fighter” and received by Ronald Reagan at the White House in 1986.
19 November 1979

Matos Breakfast

Washington, DC
Breakfast and press conference organized by CDM to honor Huber Matos, the Cuban opponent of Fidel Castro (see above) who was just liberated and emigrated to the United States. Matos declares that absent foreign pressure such as the one exercised by CDM, he would still linger in his Cuban prison.
24 April 1980

Conference “Totalitarianism, Terrorism and US Foreign Policy”

Sheraton hotel
Washington, DC
Full-day conference followed by an official dinner to honor Andrei Sakharov. During the morning, representatives from the presidential campaigns speak on behalf of their candidate, then Henry Kissinger delivers a keynote speech at lunch. This is followed by two panels on “totalitarianism, terrorism and US foreign policy”, with participation from Shimon Peres, Richard Allen, Richard Pipes, Jean-François Revel, Midge Decter, Edward Luttwak, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Charles Horner, Angelo Codevilla, Ken Adelman, Carl Gershman, Abraham Schulsky, Michael Ledeen, and others. This conference is a follow-up to the seminar organized a year earlier in Jerusalem by the Jonathan Institute (in remembrance of Yonatan Netanyahu, see above).
At dinner, CDM gives an award to Andrei Sakharov, which his daughter Tatiana Yankelovich receives on his behalf. Dr. Philippe Handler, the President of the National Academy of Sciences, gives a speech expressing the support of the American scientific community to the dissidents, then Senators Jackson and Moynihan each gives a keynote speech. Martin Ward and Albert Shanker, two union leaders affiliated with CDM, have mobilized members from the AFL-CIO for this ceremony. They mention the resolution adopted by the Executive Committee of the AFL CIO on February 19th in support of Sakharov.


Original invitation to a “Human Rights Dinner” organized by the Coalition for a Democratic Majority at the Waldorf Astoria hotel (New York city) on 30 September 1978







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dinners_and_ceremonies.txt · Last modified: 2009/12/29 20:29 by justin