NEW YORK (Mar. 28)
A Soviet Jewish umbrella group and an American organization that combats anti-Semitism have joined forces in an effort to escalate the fight against the perceived rise in anti-Semitism in the post-glasnost Soviet Union.
The Confederation of Jewish Organizations and Communities of the USSR, known as the Va’ad, signed an agreement with the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith “to expose, analyze and counteract anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union,” it was announced Wednesday at a press conference at ADL headquarters here.
“Until now there have not been verified cases of physical assault against Jews, but everyone expects it and we want to create mechanisms of defense,” said Michael Chlenov, co-president of the Va’ad, who was in New York to work out arrangements with ADL.
Chlenov called for more effective collection and evaluation of data pertaining to Soviet anti-Semitism.
Under the new agreement, a desk will be created at ADL to focus on the subject of increased Soviet anti-Semitism and to disseminate information to the American Jewish community.
The Va’ad will designate a person in Moscow to serve as liaison, providing information to ADL.
‘FACT FROM FICTION’
“We need to be able to distinguish fact from fiction in the dissemination of information,” said Kenneth Jacobson, director of ADL’s international affairs division.
Chlenov, who is a professor of history at the University of Moscow, noted that the “bloodbath” in Baku in recent months, he said, shows that Soviet authorities are incapable of protecting minority citizens and of stopping pogroms.
Chlenov said that such governmental ineptitude is of particular concern to the minimum one-and-a-half million Soviet Jews still residing in the Soviet Union.
“The Nazi movement has reappeared in the ’80s in the country that combatted the Nazis in the Second World War,” he said. “We very often hear the language of the Nazis: world Zionist conspiracy, Aryan, Freemasonry.”
Chlenov said there are about 20 neo-Nazi groups in Russia proper, many concentrated in industrial cities. They control approximately 10 journals which disseminate “thousands” of anti-Semitic pamphlets.
But Chlenov made a distinction between grass-roots anti-Semitism and state anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union.
Although state anti-Semitism has not been a cause for concern in recent years, the appointment of Valentin Rasputin, an anti-Semitic writer, to Gorbachev’s advisory council does pose the threat of organized anti-Semitism from above, he said.
Chlenov called on American Jews to join Soviet Jews in demanding, via letters and public rallies, the Soviet government to make public statements condemning anti-Semitism.