An hour-long nationwide TV broadcast from Moscow on Jan. 22, called “Traders of Souls,” depicted Soviet Jewish activists and refuseniks as “soldiers of Zionism inside the Soviet Union,” and accuses them of being part of a “Western based anti-Soviet conspiracy.” The National Conference on Soviet Jewry (NCSJ) learned that the “documentary” which dealt heavily with the emigration of Soviet Jews to Israel, took the unprecedented step of naming several activists and claiming that they were involved in “subversive” activities.
The recent broadcast depicted Western writers, actors and Nobel Prize laureates who have in the past appealed to the Soviet authorities on behalf of Soviet Jews as dupes of Zionist propaganda. At the same time. American and British organizations helping Soviet Jewry were stigmatized as agents of Jewish finance.
Long-term refusenik Vladimir Slepak said that this broadcast has incited anti-Semitism among average Russians. “Zionism.” Slepak pointed out, “is being used as ‘cosmopolitanism’ was used during the Stalin purge period in the early 1950s.” Activist Anatoly Sharansky said: “There is always anti-Semitism among people in this country and as a Jew you learn to sense it, but now it is at a higher level than normal. Everyone in buses and subways are discussing these films and similar articles. It smells of a pogrom.”
The film is only one arm of the media recently utilized by Soviet authorities. The latest issue of the illustrated magazine “Ogonyok,” asserts that Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi SS officer in charge of rounding up Jews during World War II, was kidnapped by Israelis in Argentina in 1960 to prevent him from divulging pre-World War II plans with the Zionists to set up a pro-Nazi Zionist state.
Four Soviet Jewish activists. Iosif Begun. Yuli Kosharovsky in addition to Slepak and Sharansky, have filed a suit charging insult against the television network. A former Soviet Jewish broadcaster told newsmen in Rome of a second film called “Secrets and Other Things,” which suggests that the Jews tried to kill Lenin, supported Hitler’s rise to power and juxtaposed scenes of deprivation with pictures of prominent Jews.
It seems that in preparation for the Belgrade conference in June, 1977 on the fulfillment of the Helsinki accords, the USSR has prepared “an attack as its best defense,” said Soviet Jewish scientist and refusenik Benjamin Levich who has been waiting for an exit visa since 1973.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.