NEW YORK (Jul. 24)
Soviet Jewry advocacy groups have welcomed an article published this week in Pravda, the Communist Party organ, which denounced growing anti-Semitism and warned of the danger it poses to the well-being of Soviet society.
The mass emigration of Soviet Jews demonstrates that “the fear of pogroms is acquiring the scale of panic,” said the Pravda article by historian Sergei Rogov, according to a translation by the Los Angeles Times.
“I think it is a hopeful sign and an indication that the recent conversations between President Bush and President Gorbachev regarding anti-Semitism are bearing fruit,” Martin Wenick, executive director of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry, said of the article.
The article “is evidence that anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union is as severe as we’ve been saying,” said Pamela Cohen, national president of the Union of Councils for Soviet Jews.
The article said anti-Semitism is not only a threat to Jews but is also destructive to Gorbachev’s attempt at perestroika, the restructuring of Soviet society and the Soviet economy.
“This unprecedented anti-Semitism is of great concern, because we face an attempt to disrupt the process of social consolidation. A law-based state must protect people of every nationality,” the article said.
The publication of the article is being viewed as unprecedented public acknowledgment of the problem of anti-Semitism by the Communist Party leadership, which has been reluctant to address the “Jewish question.”
“This may be Gorbachev’s way of addressing the problem without directly making a statement,” said Cohen of the Union of Councils.
Though it spoke out strongly against anti-Semitism, the Pravda article said that outlawing it outright would be not be a democratic solution.
The Soviet and American Jewish communities have been pushing for the Soviet government to take action against extremist anti-Semitic groups.
A statement issued Tuesday by the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith praised the Pravda article, but called upon the Gorbachev government to “implement immediate follow-up action assuring Soviet Jews that their security is safeguarded.”
Wenick of the National Conference also said he hoped “words would turn into actual deeds.”