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Behind the Headlines Soviet Anti-semitism

July 19, 1979
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The co-chairmen of the U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe have strongly condemned the latest manifestations of anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union as “alarming” and a “virulent campaign.”

Rep. Dante Fascell (D.Fla) who heads the panel that monitors compliance with the Helsinki agreement signed by 35 nations including the Soviet Union, and Sen. Claiborne Pell (D. R. I.), the co-chairman, issued separate statements assailing the Soviet propaganda against Jews.

“Soviet anti-Semitism, in both official and unofficial varieties, has taken a new and unsettling form” and the “official campaign in the press in books, and in propaganda has been particularly intense this year,” according to news reports from Moscow. An exhibition of paintings last winter by the official Soviet painter, Mikhail A. Savitsky, in Minsk included a canvass that showed a heap of naked Russian corpses in a concentration camp. Grinning sadistically at each other as if pleased with the grisly scene was a helmeted Nazi officer and a prison camp trustee depicted as a Jew wearing a Star of David. The painting, entitled “Summer Theater,” was part of a collection showing Nazi brutalities during the Nazi occupation of Russia.


“The recent reports of increased anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union is alarming,” Fascell said. “It is clear that this latest surge is not solely an expression of spontaneous popular feeling but rather an officially sanctioned campaign. Soviet authorities have encouraged this vituperative sentiment by allowing the publication and exhibition of blatantly anti-Semitic literature and art work. Such actions are to be strongly condemned.”

Noting that some of the anti-Semitic material currently being circulated in the Soviet Union contains accusations reminiscent of the notorious Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Pell commented: “If this virulent campaign is an attempt to discourage Jews from emigrating, Soviet authorities may find their scheme backfiring as the rising number of those requesting invitations from their Israeli relatives indicates more and more Soviet Jews are trying to only way to escape this pervasive anti-Semitism.”

The rise in anti-Semitism comes at a time when the Soviet government is allowing a record number of Jews to emigrate on Israeli visas. The two developments — a rise in anti-Semitism and a rise in emigration — have prompted several theories.

The heightened emigration is attributed here and in Moscow as the Soviet government’s form of “assurances” to the Carter Administration of compliance with the Jackson-Vanik Amendment, and there fore the USSR is entitled to U.S. trade benefits.

The rise in anti-Semitism is also seen as related to the emigration climb but on the ground that elements in the Soviet government wish to get rid of as many Jews as possible because they are considered a potential “fifth column” in the event of war with the West.

In this connection, an outpouring of official “anti-Zionist” books and unofficial Russophile denunciations allege that harmful Jewish influences are within the politburo itself although Jews long ago ceased to have any participation there.

“A principal ingredient” in the anti-Semitism “appears to be the careful balancing act regarding Jewish emigration forced on the Kremlin,” according to a report received here. “While seeking to placate the United States to gain better trade terms by raising Jewish emigration, the Soviets also must please their Arab allies who staunchly oppose the strengthening of Israel which emigration can earn for the Jewish State.”

While anti-Semitic books and other media has grown continuously in Moscow since the Six-Day War, it is reported, new additions have emerged in recent months. Officially they are labeled anti-Zionist since Soviet officials reject the view that anti-Zionism means anti-Semitism. “But to many Soviet Jews it is a distinction without a difference,” the report says.


The Soviet Academy of Sciences early this year published {SPAN}###{/SPAN} copies of a book entitled “The Ideology and Practice of International Zionism.” It attacks Judaism as a religion and alleges “Zionist centers” control Western media.

Another publication, by Yevgeny S. Yevseyev, entitled “Zionism in the Chain of Imperialism,” calls Zionism “the worst form of fascism, the most dangerous of all fascist forms.”

For many Soviet Jews, the current anti-Semitic campaign was signaled early this year with publication by the official “Jurists Publishers” of 15,000 copies of “The White Book” of “evidence, facts and documents” that tries to link “Zionists” in the Soviet Union to U.S. intelligence agents.

“Jewish parents say this overt anti-Semitism is bolstered by hidden but ever rising barriers against their children in universities,” the report said. “They say only a handful of young Jews are now admitted to science and mathematics faculties at prestigious Moscow State University and institutes of higher learning where Jews have traditionally excelled. The parents say such impediments are more severe now than at any time since the early 1950s.” That was the closing period of the Stalin government.

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