Russian Intellectual Antisemitism in the Post-Comunist Era

Russian Intellectual Antisemitism in the Post-Comunist Era

Russian Intellectual Antisemitism in the Post-Comunist Era

Russian Intellectual Antisemitism in the Post-Comunist Era

Excerpt

This study examines the nature and meaning of Russian antisemitism of the perestroika and post-perestroika periods. The significance of antisemitism in Russian political and social life is widely recognized. The occurrence of antisemitic manifestations and incidents (vandalism, desecration of cemeteries and synagogues, attacks on Jewish property, graffiti inscriptions) are monitored and reported by newspapers and magazines, while a number of sociological surveys have studied the mechanisms of ethnic stereotyping and popular attitudes to the Jews. In addition, there have been many works devoted to the study of political antisemitism both in Russia and in the Soviet Union. The focus of this study, however, is not “grass-roots” antisemitism, nor political antisemitism, but intellectual antisemitism, that is, the views and arguments advanced to back up antisemitic positions. My primary focus will be the ways in which the Russian ideologists of antisemitism articulate their ideas. Intellectual antisemitism, that often fuels and animates all the various manifestations given above, has so far received scant attention among scholars. The student of antisemitism can find only some passing remarks and a few individual sections in general monographs on the ideology of Russian nationalism. No systematic study of post-communist ideological antisemitism has been undertaken.

Moreover, reports in magazines and newspapers have created some persistent stereotypes about Russian antisemitism. These reports often suggest that antisemitism is a syndrome common to the lowbrow public, that antisemitic propaganda circulates mainly or almost exclusively among the undereducated strata of the population, and that Judeophobia meets almost unanimous opposition from intellectuals. The works of some social scientists have reinforced this stereotype. Some observers even discuss the “appeal” of ultra-nationalism to intellectuals, as if it were something outside or separate from, the intellectual’s activity. The notion that antisemitism is a syndrome of the lowbrow public, and the preoccupation with “grass-roots” antisemitism led to the corollary that the ideas of ultra-nationalists do not demand any serious response. This simplistic presumption governs many discussions on the ideology of Russian nationalism. It has been suggested in several studies . . .

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