Menu JTA Search

Russian textbook seen as anti-Semitic

MOSCOW (JTA) — Moscow State University has issued a textbook on Russian history that some are calling anti-Semitic because it counts the number of Jews in Soviet governments.   

The Russian Ministry of Education approved the book, which for the first time in a university history textbook provides the exact percentage of Jews in Soviet governments, and recommended it for history students.

Co-authored by Moscow State history professors Alexander Barsenkov and Alexander Vdovin, the publicaton deals with Russian history between 1917 and 2004. Its underlying theme is interethnic relations in the Soviet Union focusing on the research of Alexander Barsenkov, who heads the laboratory of interethnic relations at Moscow State’s Social Systems Research Center.

Part of the textbook’s forward reads, “For the greater part of its 70-year history, the USSR was ruled by people of non-Russian nationality.” The authors write later, “By the 1930s, the Jewish nation was the leader among those represented in the Communist party and the state machinery, in Science and Art.”

Sociologist Anatoly Golubovsky, a history graduate from Moscow State and Barsenkov’s student,  was among the first to draw public attention to the textbook.

“The book has not just a strong anti-Semitic mood," Golubovsky said. "In many cases, the authors treat events in the way they like it and pose it as a common knowledge. For example, they say that deportation of the Crimea Tatars was caused by the necessity of clearing the territory for the Jewish republic, which is nonsense from a historical point of view.”

Vdovin said in an interview with the New Times magazine that presenting information on the “Jewish issue” meant just “completeness of knowledge, not anti-Semitism.”

"The Jewish factor has had a big influence in the historical process,” he said.

Vdovin also added that there was no state anti-Semitism in the USSR, “Otherwise we would have had no Jews.”

Vdovin formerly served as a scientific adviser to a history student, Nikita Tikhonov, who is now on trial for murdering two anti-fascists, lawyer Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasiya Baburova, in January 2009 in Moscow.

Moscow State was tainted last year by anti-Semitism when a well-known Holocaust denier, ultranationalist writer Oleg Platonov, was the first speaker at a new Russian club in the faculty of foreign languages.

NEXT STORY