`DOWN with Judaic Fascism!" "Yeltsin is a friend of the Jews!"
Such slogans, hand-lettered on signboards and painted on
banners, are common fare these days at Moscow demonstrations by
communist and Russian nationalist opponents of the Russian
The placards are one of a multitude of public expressions of
anti-Semitism which have become so common in Russia as to barely
draw comment. Yuri Semenovsky, a member of the board of the Union
of Councils for Soviet Jews, gestures to a pile of newspapers which
regularly carry attacks on Jews.
"Anti-Semitism here has become the language of the right-wing
nationalist movement," says Mr. Semenovsky. Researchers monitoring
this movement say almost 100 publications - from the tiny sheets of
extremist groups to mass circulation journals such as the monthly
Molodaya Gvardia - carry articles assailing Jews.
Anti-Jewish jokes are a constant in a political humor column of
the weekly Dyen (Day), flagship of the so-called Russian patriotic
movement. In an interview in Dyen's March 15 issue, Dmitri
Vasiliyev, leader of the neo-fascist Pamyat organization,
articulated the view that "communism and Nazism ... stem from
Judaism, the only religion in the world which utilizes such notions
as the 'chosen people' and 'racial preeminence.' "
Nor are such sentiments confined to the printed word. Early
March 20, the door of the Kiev apartment of Ukrainian-Jewish poet
Abram Katsnelson was splashed with gasoline and set on fire,
reports Kiev Radio Liberty reporter Davi Arkadyev. On the wall a
sign was painted: "Kikes! Israel waits for you." Other incidents,
he says, include a bomb planted at the Kiev synagogue last December.
The reemergence of anti-Semitism some 50 years after the
Holocaust is one consequence of the collapse of communism.
Resulting social and economic chaos has encouraged old traditions
of blaming Jews for troubled times.
And the shattering of communist beliefs has left an ideological
vacuum into which extremist views are rushing. Anti-Semitism has
resurfaced even in countries such as Poland, where a tiny Jewish
community of about 4,000 remains of what was once the largest
Jewish population in Europe (3.3 million in 1939).
But anti-Semitism appears to reach its greatest public
expression in the former Soviet Union, where the Jewish community
is the third largest in the world after the United States and
Israel. Mr. Semenovsky says it now numbers 1.5 million, plus
several million more of partial Jewish ancestry or who have hidden
their identity. Some two-thirds of Soviet Jews live in Russia and
20 percent in Ukraine, he estimates.
After Mikhail Gorbachev lifted controls on Jewish emigration, a
huge outflow headed to Israel, the US, and elsewhere. The rate has
slowed because of economic difficulties in Israel, but activists
here say the desire to leave is undiminished. …