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2 Soviet Newspapers Dispute Critics of Russia’s Treatment of Jewish Citizens

The two leading Soviet newspapers have taken issue with critics of Russia’s treatment of its Jewish citizens. Grigori Plotkin, writing in the Communist Party organ Pravda, claimed that anti-Semitism was eliminated in the Soviet Union 52 years ago in the October revolution. Izvestia, the Government newspaper, said that Soviet policy permitted Jews to re-unite with relatives abroad although it virtually ruled out emigration by other Jews or Soviet citizens generally.

The articles in both newspapers replied to charges made by Israel and by Jews in other countries that the Kremlin deliberately suppresses Jewish cultural and religious life in the USSR in violation of the Soviet Constitution.

“In principle, Soviet law decides the question of the exit of those wishing to emigrate with maximum democracy,” the Pravda article said. “When some Soviet Jews wish to leave the USSR and join their relatives abroad, including Israel, they have received permission,” the paper said. It acknowledged that the process of emigration to Israel has been “complicated” since Moscow broke off diplomatic relations with Israel during the Six-Day War. An applicant for emigration must submit a certified letter from a close relative in Israel inviting him. If the exit permit is granted, the immigrant must obtain the necessary documents from the Netherlands Embassy which has handled Israeli affairs in Moscow since June, 1967.

Izvestia accused Israel of not really being interested in re-uniting families but in bringing in Jews for the labor force and “cannon fodder.” The article was signed by L. Berenshtein, a historian, and M. Fridel, a journalist, both Jewish type names. They claimed that Soviet Jews “more decisively than the Jews of America and Western Europe reject the Zionist nonsense and answer it with deep contempt.”

The Pravda article claimed that “Zionist leaders” wanted a “Jewish problem” to exist in the Soviet Union for their own purposes. The writer said that any manifestation of anti-Semitism in the USSR was punishable by Soviet law.

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