LONDON (Jan. 31)
Comparing the threat of anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union to that in Nazi Germany a half century ago, Natan Sharansky raised a record-breaking $11.8 million here Tuesday night to help absorb Soviet Jews in Israel.
Sharansky, who spent nine years in the Soviet Gulag before he was freed to immigrate to Israel in February 1986, held an audience of 448 guests spellbound at a dinner launching the Joint Israel Appeal’s largest ever campaign to save Soviet Jews.
With pre-dinner donations, the rescue fund now stands at over $25 million.
According to Sharansky, whatever happens to Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and his program of perestroika, or reconstruction, there is no future for Jews in the Soviet Union.
He said that while in the Ukraine and other republics, some nationalists see Jews as allies, there is “very strong anti-Semitism” in Russia itself.
The anti-Semitic Pamyat movement attracts hundreds of thousands of people to its meetings, Sharansky claimed.
He said that as the Communist ideology dies, the Russian people make the Jews scapegoats for the system’s failure.
“It reminds me of the 1930s in Nazi Germany,” said the Israeli activist. “That’s why Soviet Jews want to leave and leave in large numbers.”
“If you fail and do not be quick enough, who knows what will happen,” Sharansky warned.