New Russian Anti-Semitism Worries U.S. Jewish Leaders

Article excerpt

American Jewish leaders are quietly pressing the Clinton administration to voice concern over a new wave of Russian anti-Semitism that appears to be linked to the strong campaign showing of Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov.

The two top officials of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry - Chairman Rabbi Mark Staitman and Executive Director Mark Levin - met yesterday with Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott in what was described as a "scheduled meeting."

American Jewish sources said the current wave of anti-Semitic incidents in Russia would be among the subjects they discussed.

Senior officials in major American Jewish organizations, speaking on the condition of anonymity, confirmed they are so worried by reports of anti-Semitic incidents that they have asked the administration to raise the issue with Russian leaders.

The American Jewish officials said they are concerned about:

* The April 3 decision by the Yeltsin government to withdraw the accreditation of the Israel-based Jewish Agency, which has been supporting the revival of communal Jewish life in Russia.

* The April 19 bombing of a Jewish communal center in Yaroslavl, 130 miles north of Moscow.

* The interruption of Jewish history classes and instruction on emigration to Israel by Interior Ministry agents in the town of Pyatigorsk on April 30.

* The mailing of notices to large numbers of Jewish youths warning them that they may be drafted into the Russian army.

* The release of a new security edict that, if enforced, could make emigration from Russia more difficult.

"There is a whole series of developments that have caused widespread nervousness," said a senior official in one leading American Jewish organization. "The Jewish Agency decision was definitely a cause for concern. We hadn't expected that."

Paul Goble, chief State Department expert on Soviet nationalities during the Bush administration, said, "The threat of anti-Semitism in the post-Soviet states is greater today than it has been any time in the last decade. …