PARIS (Feb. 9)
Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev yesterday attacked campaigns on behalf of Soviet Jewry as “part of a vociferous anti-Soviet campaign, a veritable act of psychological warfare against the Soviet Union.” In an interview with the French Communist paper L’Humanite, Gorbachev said “Jews are free and have equal rights with the other nationalities.”
The Soviet leaders drew a parallel between anti-Semitism and Zionism as he said, “I believe that in a civilized society there should be no anti-Semitism nor any Zionism nor, more generally speaking, any nationalism, chauvinism nor racism.” He noted that racism in South Africa and “racist crimes” in Western Europe and the United States are increasing. He added, as part of these examples of racism, “And for how many years already, and for well known reasons, have the Arab people of Palestine remained chased away from its land?”
THE FATE OF SOVIET JEWS
Turning to the specific question dealing with Soviet Jewry, he said:
“In our country, anti-Semitic propaganda and other forms of racial discrimination are legally forbidden and are considered a crime. It is unimaginable for things which happen in France and other Western countries, such as the profanation of Jewish cemeteries or the open activity of neo-Nazi organizations which spread anti-Jewish propaganda” to take place in the Soviet Union.
Gorbachev added: “I believe that the special interest taken by Zionist propaganda and anti-Communists in general on the question of Jews in the Soviet Union has nothing to do with the fate of the Jews and is a hypocritical veil to disseminate other political objectives.”
The Soviet leader also said that dissident physicist Andrei Sakharov has committed criminal acts and will not be allowed to leave the Soviet Union because of his knowledge of state and military secrets.
Gorbachev’s reference to the Jewish question was for more aggressive than past statements made during his official trip to Paris last autumn and his recent meetings with President Reagan in Geneva. Jewish sources here said they see a stiffening and toughening of the Soviet stand on this issue.