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The Face of Soviet Anti-semitism

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Amy Saldinger, guest speaker at a day-long conference here yesterday on anti-Semitism, described the message Soviet citizens have received in the press since the Six-Day War this way: “Jews really don’t have a history, and if you want to be considered a loyal Soviet citizen you must repudiate Jewish history.”

Saldinger’s remarks addressed what many see as a new surge of anti-Semitic-propaganda in the Soviet Union. While the exact number of anti-Jewish cartoons, articles and books in the Soviet press is not known, Western observers count hundreds a year.

The conference, at Columbia University, was jointly sponsored by the Jacob Blaustein institute for the Advancement of Human Rights, the Greater New York Conference on Soviet Jewry and two programs within the university. Saldinger’s panel — there were four panels in all on various problems of Soviet ethnic policies–was held before 150 persons.

INTENSIFIED SINCE SIX-DAY WAR

Saldinger, a doctoral student at the University of Michigan writing her thesis on anti-Semitism in the Soviet media, said the “official” Soviet propaganda campaign has intensified dramatically since 1967. She said the popular press now blatantly distorts Jewish history by lumping together such issues as Zionism, Jewish emigration, religion and the Holocaust.

The message is that all Jews are not to be trusted because they are all potential Zionists, all potential religious believers, all potential emigrants,” she explained.

Such gross distortions — including the idea that Jews are responsible for the Holocaust — reveal a growing mistrust of Jews on the part of the Soviet elite, according to Saldinger. They also impress on the general public the idea that Jews have always been agitators and conspirators.

Saldinger said anti-Semitism has reached Soviet scholarly journals as well. Articles on Zionism, given a “scholarly sheen,” are aimed at the intelligentsia. “Like their counterparts in the popular press,” she said, “these scholarly articles document the ever-expanding Zionist threat over time.”

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