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Soviet Reply on Anti-semitic Book Rejected by French Communists

March 26, 1964
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Attacks on the Soviet Union over the publication of an anti-Semitic book reached a new peak today among French Communist and pro-Soviet groups. The target of the unprecedented criticisms was “Judaism Without Embellishment, ” published last year in Kiev by the Ukrainian Academy of Science, which has been condemned in the West as an incitement to anti-Semitism.

The highlight of the new denunciations was the rejection today by Neue Presse, the Yiddish-language newspaper of the Jewish section of the French Communist party, of a reply sent to it by Novosti, the Soviet Press Agency. The Neue Presse, in the first criticism ever made by the Jewish section of Soviet policy, had denounced the book and sent a formal request to Novosti for an explanation of how it came to be published under formal Soviet auspices.

The Novosti reply was not printed by Neue Presse today in its entirety. The published portions indicated that Novosti had replied that T, Kichko, author of the book, had acted under the rights guaranteed by the Soviet Constitution to conduct anti-religious propaganda, just as the same Constitution guaranteed the rights of religious worship.

Novosti conceded that Kichko had not “carried out his task in the best way. ” The Novosti reply claimed that the book was being used to stir up anti-Soviet propaganda. News of the book was first made public in the West last month by the American Jewish Committee in New York.


Rejecting the reply, Neue Presse declared: “We maintain that the book ought to be withdrawn immediately from circulation as harmful to the USSR, that an investigation ought to be made as to how it was possible that the book and its cartoons could have appeared and that proper measures ought to be taken to see that such books should not be permitted to appear in the Soviet Union.” The demands were without precedent in Communist history.

Pressing its attack, Neue Presse also featured a criticism published yesterday in L’Humanite, the official organ of the French Communist party, which had reprinted the original Neue Presse attack on the book, in another precedent-making development in Communist party relations with the Soviet Union. Neue Presse printed a photographic reproduction of the L’Humanite article on its front page, stressing the backing of the entire Communist party.

Another extraordinary development in the spreading controversy was the joining in on criticisms of the Soviets by the Movement for Peace and Against Anti-Semitism, which has previously followed an undeviating policy of defending the USSR and permitting criticism of the West, The MRAP announced it was asking competent Soviet authorities for information on the book.


The morning newspaper. Liberation, which also follows the Communist party line, not only published a statement of support of MRAP but also asked that those responsible for publication and distribution of the book be punished “in accordance with Soviet laws against the promotion of racism, ” The newspaper called for sentences of one to three years in labor camps or two to five years of forced labor for the perpetrators.

A mass meeting called by Jewish writers and journalists here last night adopted a resolution calling on the Soviet Union to confiscate all copies of the volume and to take action against the author. An official of the Organization France-USSR, set up to advance favorable relations between the two countries, announced that the issue would be taken up with Alexei Adjubei, son-in-law of Premier Khrushchev and editor of Izvestia, the official organ of the Government, who is coming to Paris March 30 as a guest of the organization.

Officials of the organization indicated they would take up other Soviet religious issues with Mr. Adjubei. These were presumed to include the problem of the Soviet harassment of Russian Jews seeking matzohs for the coming Passover and the entire Soviet anti-religious campaign. The organization may also ask for approval for a delegation to visit the Soviet Union on the religious issues.

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