Former Prisoner of Zion, Rabbi Yosef Mendelevitch, told Arutz Sheva Tuesday about how he staged a hunger strike to pressure Soviet authorities to give him his Torah and prayer books while he was held in prison. He also gave his surprising opinion on the current controversy regarding force-feeding of Arab terror prisoners.
Rabbi Mendelevitch was sentenced to 37 years in jail after he and other activists carried out a failed attempt in 1970 to hijack a plane – an action that created pressure on the Soviet regime and caused it to start allowing Jews to leave Russia.
When he was serving in the gulag, his Torah and prayer book were discovered and taken away from him. He mounted a protest “fast” while continuing to work in the labor camp, and after three weeks he was placed in an isolated cell as punishment. Even after seven weeks of this hunger strike, he said, his health was fine and his mood was good. He had made sure, however, that news of his hunger strike was delivered to his comrades outside the prison.
At the 50th day of the hunger strike, the Soviets decided to force-feed him since the matter of the hunger strike had been brought up in the UN. Laughing, Rabbi Mendelevitch described in detail how a rubber pipe was inserted into his mouth and that while “it was [done] forcibly, I enjoyed it,” because “I felt the smell of the food!”
Doctors in Israel who refuse to force-feed terrorist prisoners are doing so because of political motivations, he stated. “There is no humanitarian issue at all; it is their task as doctors.” In fact, he noted, the Hippocratic Oath requires them to save the terrorists' lives – and in so doing they will save the lives of thousands of Israelis whose lives will be in danger if the terrorist is released and goes back to terrorism.