JERUSALEM (AP) — Ida Nudel, one of the most prominent activists to campaign for the right of Jews to leave the Soviet Union in the 1970s and '80s, died in Israel on Tuesday, Israeli media reported. She was 90.
Nudel was born in the Soviet Union in 1931 and came to prominence in the 1970s as a leading activist for the rights of jailed Soviet Jews, and as a refusenik — one of thousands banned from leaving the country at the time.
Nudel sought permission to leave for 16 years, but Soviet authorities denied her an exit visa on the grounds that she may have heard state secrets while working as an accountant at a state institution. Her sister and family were allowed to emigrate to Israel in 1971, leaving her behind.
She spent four years in Siberian exile for hanging a poster on her Moscow balcony in 1978 that said ″KGB, Give Me My Visa.″ After she was released in 1982, she was banned from living in major Soviet cities.
Her cause was championed by American actress Jane Fonda, and her story was fictionalized in the 1987 Italian film “Mosca Addio” (Farewell Moscow), starring Liv Ullman.
In 1987, she was allowed to move to Israel, where she was greeted by thousands on the tarmac and welcomed by Israeli leaders.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett called Nudel “a symbol of the struggle for immigration from the Soviet Union” and “a role model of a Jewish heroine.”
Yuli Edelstein, an Israeli lawmaker and fellow former refusenik, on Twitter called her “one of the great icons of the struggle for the right to immigrate to Israel from the Soviet Union.”
“Unfortunately, in recent years I accompany more and more of my brothers and sisters, Prisoners of Zion, in their final journey,” he said.