NEW YORK (Jan. 7)
American Jewish leaders are demanding that the Soviet authorities crack down on the plans of Maj. Gen. Viktor Filatov, editor of the Soviet Defense Ministry’s Military-Historical Journal, who plans to publish the anti-Semitic “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” in a forthcoming issue of the monthly.
“We are deeply distressed to learn that a major general in the Soviet army, who has been entrusted with disseminating information to hundreds of thousands of members of the military, plans to publish a tract regarded by respected historians as anti-Semitic and a forgery,” Shoshana Cardin, chairman of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry, said in a statement Monday.
Cardin said the National Conference “is writing to the Soviet ambassador in Washington urging that the Soviet authorities take urgent measures to insure that one of their leading military journals will cease to be an outlet for the perpetuation of czarist and Hitler-era anti-Semitism.”
The magazine, whose circulation has reportedly increased from 27,000 to over 277,000 since Filatov took the helm two years ago, is said to be read mainly in the Red Army’s officer corps and increasingly among young civilians.
Filatov has already published excerpts from Hitler’s autobiography “Mein Kampf” and a passage from a 1910 book alleging that Jews are unfit for military service.
David Harris, executive vice president of the American Jewish Committee, said, “We demand an official reprimand to the editor by President Gorbachev and the firm assurances from the Defense Ministry that such publication will cease immediately.”
He added: “There is no issue here of freedom of speech. These anti-Semitic diatribes can serve only to fan anti-Jewish feelings at a time of political and social chaos in the Soviet Union.”
COMPARISON WITH THE BIBLE
Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, called on Soviet Defense Minister Dmitri Yazov “to remove Maj. Gen. Filatov as editor of the Military-Historical Journal immediately.”
Foxman asserted, “While hatemongers and conservative Russian nationalists have taken advantage of glasnost to promote vicious anti-Semitism and racism, it is unconscionable for an official organ of the government to do so.”
ADL urged Gorbachev to state publicly that anti-Semitism, racism and national chauvinism are unacceptable in the military and Soviet society.
“Especially offensive to us is the editor’s cavalier equation of the ‘Protocols’ with the Bible and his characterization of that obscene forgery” as “a normal piece of literature,” said Cardin.
A New York Times story from Moscow on Monday quoted Filatov as saying, “I regard the ‘Protocols’ as a normal piece of literature, like the Bible or the Koran. There are some interesting ideas there.”
He also was quoted as saying he got only a gentle reprimand for the “Mein Kampf” excerpt.
In 1989, Filatov published an excerpt from a 1910 book praising the czarist army, which included a recommendation that Jews not be taken for military service because they were physically weak and lacking in character.