Reports on Jewish Status in Soviet Union Disclose Bias Pattern
Menu JTA Search

Reports on Jewish Status in Soviet Union Disclose Bias Pattern

Download PDF for this date

The Soviet Union formally considers the Jews to be a nationality, as evidenced by the documents each Soviet citizen must carry, but “despite this formal recognition, the Soviet Government deprives its Jewish citizens of even the minimal cultural and spiritual privileges enjoyed by all other Soviet nationalities and religious groups,” the weekly review, “The New Leader, said today in a special issue devoted entirely to the status of the Jews in the Soviet Union.

The Soviet Government, the review declared, “provides the Jews with neither the means for maintaining a full cultural life nor the opportunity to assimilate completely. In short, the effect of its policy has been to constitute Soviet Jewry a peculiarly marginal category of citizens and to isolate them from normal existence.”

The review charged that while there has always been a strong campaign against religion, “examination of the Soviet press in the last three years, however, reveals a concerted propaganda campaign to single out Judaism and Jews for special opprobrium. “The double-barrelled campaign, it charged, on the one hand, vilifies the Jewish religion and, on the other “perpetuates the traditional anti-Semitic stereotypes of Jews.”


Harrison J. Salisbury, veteran Moscow correspondent of The New York Times, in an article in that paper dealing with the position of the Jews in the Soviet Union, declared that “active anti-Semitism or active persecution of Jews no longer is carried out by the Soviet Government. The situation of the Jew in Russia, like that of any Soviet citizen, is far better today than in the final years of Stalin’s life.

But the consequences of official anti-Semitism and its widespread dissemination among the population are far from ended. Indeed, only fumbling and half-hearted efforts have been made by the government to face up to the reality of the problem. Anti-Semitic tendencies are still alive and powerful.”

Discussing the regime’s attitude on this, the correspondent said: “Why has Khrushchev failed to act in forthright and principled fashion against anti-Semitism? There are those who suggest that it is because he himself has inherited the anti-Jewish attitudes so common in the Ukraine, where he grew up.

“Others suggest that Mr. Khrushchev fails to act because anti-Semitism, actively propagated for many years, has become a popular policy. The fact is that the Khrushchev Government, like the Stalin Government, treats the Jewish population as a national security risk. There seems little prospect of any positive action by Mr. Khrushchev to correct this situation in the near future.

“The Soviet Union has embarked on a foreign policy favorable to the Arab states and antagonistic to Israel. Jewish cultural and emotional ties to Israel have fed Soviet suspicions concerning Jewish loyalty to the Soviet Union,” Mr. Salisbury said.


Will Maslow, general counsel of the American Jewish Congress, who led a group of 25 on a tour of the Soviet Union and Poland last month, reported to the national administrative committee of the congress that in Russia, “the sole remnant of a once-great Jewish community consists of a few solitary synagogues attended by a handful of old men and women, and, within 20 years or less, even these will be gone. This,” he said, “is the bitter fruit of the Soviet effort to obliterate organized Jewry in the USSR.”

In Poland, by contrast, Mr. Maslow reported, the Polish Government had undertaken a “remarkable series of steps aimed at encouraging a strong and healthy revival of community life among the estimated 40,000 Jews in Poland, all that remain of some 3,000,000 who lived in the country before the Nazi invasion.”

Young Jews born under the Soviet regime and educated under Communism are deeply disturbed by Soviet anti-Semitism, Meyer L. Brown, president of the Farband Labor Zionist Organization told a special meeting of Farband leaders last night on his return from the Soviet Union. He said that he had found the suppression of all Jewish cultural endeavor remained as stringent as in the days before Premier Nikita Khrushchev took power.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund