Friday, May 06, 2005
Anti-semitism in CIS
Gennadii Zyuganov, for example, head of the Communist Party (KPRF), warned, in a September 2003 interview, that Russia was threatened by ‘zionization’, which he blamed for the “mass impoverishment and annihilation” in Russia after the fall of the Soviet regime. Second on the party list Nikolai Kondratenko, former governor of Krasnodar region, tried to draw a distinction, during a visit to Orenburg in October 2003, between ‘good’ Jews and ‘bad’ Zionists, and linked Zionism to Nazism. In Volgograd, where he traveled in early November and met Communist Party activists, regional officials, representatives of the media, and students of the Volgograd Agricultural Academy, he blamed ‘Zionism’ and Jews in general for Russia’s problems. On 12–13 November 2003 he visited Astrakhan, where he denounced Jews once again. A KPRF political ad from November quoted him as accusing “Zionist capital” of “sucking all the living juice out of Russia and Russians” and of planning to “kill through hunger, cold and moral torture no fewer than 70 million more people” in Russia. They were joined by General Albert Makashov, who in 1998 publicly called for the mass murder of Russian Jews and claims at every opportunity that he is fighting the 'Yids'. After having being stricken from the voting rolls before the 1999 elections, he won his old seat back in the 2003 elections. The KPRF won 13 percent of the vote, which gave it almost 11 percent of the seats in the Duma (48 deputies).
The Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), headed by Vladimir Zhirinovskii (former deputy speaker of the Duma), who has frequently made antisemitic and racist comments over the years, almost doubled the number of its seats. In late October, Zhirinovskii stated his support for former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Muhammad, who claimed that Jews ruled the world (see Arab Countries): “He told the truth,” Zhirinovskii commented. The LDPR received 11 percent of the vote, which gave it 8 percent of the seats (38 deputies).
While President Vladimir Putin publicly denounced nationalist ideology and supported legal action against antisemitic publishers and skinheads, lower level officials turned a blind eye to antisemitic incidents. Shortly after the 2003 elections, President Putin condemned nationalist politicians as “either indecent people, simply idiots or provocateurs” during a live annual question-and-answer broadcast on TV and radio. He also threatened to prosecute politicians who used nationalist slogans, but no such actions have been initiated.
Since the first booby-trapped sign exploded on a Moscow highway in May 2002, there have been several similar incidents in various Russian locations. Approximately half were fake bombs while the other half were real explosives. At the beginning of 2003 firecrackers were thrown at the balcony of the apartment of the Rostov region rabbi, Elyashiv Kaplun. As a result, the balcony was set on fire. A few days earlier, unknown persons had smeared swastikas at the entrance of the building. On 1 August, a booby-trapped antisemitic sign was discovered in the suburbs of Moscow. On 21 September, another such sign was placed in a playground in Kaliningrad. It exploded while being dismantled and a 14-year-old boy was injured. On 9 October, an antisemitic sign with a dummy charge attached to it was found in southern Moscow.
On 15 and 22 August, the grave of the Jewish actor Veniamin Zuskin (a member of a Jewish intelligentsia group connected to the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee, who was murdered on 12 August 1952) in Penza was vandalized. Cemeteries were also desecrated in Kaliningrad, Samara, Makhachkala (42 gravestones on 3 April; 10 on 4 June; and several more on 4 August), Volgodonsk (40 gravestones on 11 April), Moscow (12 gravestones in May), Tambov, Yaroslavl, Pyatigorsk (19 gravestones on 28 June), and Kostroma.
About one hundred newspapers that publish anti-Jewish and xenophobic texts are sold openly. Russkoe Veche, a Nizhnii Novgorod newspaper, regularly publishes antisemitic articles.
Cemetery desecration and antisemitic graffiti on the facades of synagogues and other Jewish buildings are categorized in Ukraine mostly as vandalism. On 20 January, ink was sprayed on the door of the Jewish charity organization Irgun Khesed in Lviv, and a partly burnt Ukrainian flag with a Star of David left there. In Belaya Tserkov, the entrance to the tomb of Tsadik Rabbi Mordekhai of Chernobil was desecrated in April. In the same month, unknown persons entered the dormitory of a Jewish school in Kharkiv and painted swastikas on the staircase. On 12 June, a Jew was attacked in Dnepropetrovsk by a group of unidentified persons, who beat him and shouted antisemitic remarks. Antisemitic graffiti was painted on the Jewish Agency’s building in Kanatov on 19 June. On 23 June the word ‘Yids’ was scrawled on a poster of the exhibition “Ann Frank – A Lesson in History,” held in Kiev. On 4 July, antisemitic slogans were painted on buildings in the center of Sevastopol. On 25 July, a Jewish organization in Drogobych received an anonymous fax threatening a pogrom in August by an organization of skinheads. On 30 July 2003, a young man was attacked on the street apparently because of Hebrew text on his T-shirt. A swastika was painted on a memorial for Holocaust victims in Sevastopol on 7 August. On 13 August, and again on 26 August, swastikas, an antisemitic caricature and antisemitic slogans were painted at the entrance to a synagogue in Mukhachevo. On 28 August, Rabbi Uri Fainshtein was severely beaten near the Brodsky central synagogue by three unidentified persons. On 5 December, stones and a plaque at the Babi Yar memorial, dedicated by Israeli President Moshe Katzav in 2001, were damaged.
On 10 November, a nationalist, anti-Jewish demonstration was held in the central square of Lviv. The participants held posters branding Jews as parasites. Other posters read: “Living close to the Jews means a betrayal of God and of Ukraine.” In the same month an antisemitic article was published in the newspaper Idealist, warning against the ‘Yids’ who want to destroy the Ukrainian people. Earlier issues of this newspaper contained articles calling for the deportation of all Jews.
At the beginning of May 2003, the Grazhdanskaya Oborona band held concerts in four Belarus cities. Some of the group’s songs contain National Bolshevist content as well as anti-Christian and anti-Jewish motifs, such as a call to re-open Buchenwald and Auschwitz.
Several acts of cemetery desecration were perpetrated in May 2003, including in Gomel (15 May), Bobruysk (26 May) and Timkovich (23 May). In Borisov the same graves were vandalized two years in a row. Memorials to Holocaust victims were desecrated repeatedly. In the last three years, the Holocaust memorial at the center of Borisov was damaged four times. On 27 May, swastikas and antisemitic slogans were painted on the monument at the Yama memorial site to Holocaust victims in Minsk. On 12 October, just two months after it was inaugurated (13 August 2003), the monument in memory of Holocaust victims in Lida was desecrated with blue paint. The perpetrators were not caught.
Although religious antisemitism, i.e., the use of Christian antisemitic myths to inflame anti-Jewish feelings, has not been observed in recent years, such materials are imported from Russia and can be bought freely in stores of Pravoslav churches and at kiosks that sell religious articles. One such kiosk is located at the entrance to the National Science Academy (Natsionalnaya Akademiya Nauk) in Minsk.
The Orthodox Church also has some antisemitic tendencies. For example, the Minsk Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul issued an ‘Orthodox Calendar’ marking the date 3 January 2003 as the anniversary of the killing of ‘Martyr Baby Gavriil’, allegedly by Jews in 1690. The calendar included the prayer to be cited on this day, which contains the words: “Martyr Gavriil, beasts, Jews, have stolen you… pierced your ribs… for you bleed, and are racked with severe wounds.”
At a spontaneous meeting called in Dubasary in summer 2003, a citizen, G. Drotjev, claimed that non-Jewish pensioners had not received their pensions because “Jews and the Jewish authority have pocketed everything and stolen from the old people.” This was said at a time when pensioners had not gotten welfare payments for several months while Jewish pensioners regularly received aid packages and other social help from Jewish organizations. Following a complaint from the Jewish community of Dubosary, the regional prosecutor opened a criminal case against Drotjev for incitement of interethnic hatred. Drotjev apologized to the head of the Jewish community.
About the same time, the antisemitic book of Paul Goma (a descendant of Bessarabia who lives in Paris), Red Week: 28 June–3 July 1940, or Jews and Bessarabia, was published in Chisinau and distributed widely among bookshops and libraries, and among colleges and universities in Moldova. Goma tries to prove that the Jews themselves were to blame for their own extermination on the territory of the Romanian protectorates of Bessarabia (now part of Moldova), Bukovina, Transnistria, and the south of Ukraine, because they supported the Soviet regime and formed partisan groups. The author supports the thesis of Hitler that all Jews are communists, and distorts the Holocaust. Stefan Sacareanu, a member of parliament from the Christian Democratic People’s Party, promoted the book in the country.
The Christian Democratic People’s Party, led by Iurie Rosca, is one of the leading propagators of anti-Jewish and anti-Islamic, as well as Holocaust denial, ideas, despite Rosca’s claim that the party fights communism and totalitarianism. The party renders active support to historians who write textbooks for schools and universities without a single word about the Holocaust, although it is known that more than 400,000 Jews and many thousands of Roma were massacred by Antonescu’s collaborators in Bessarabia and Transnistria.
In June, antisemitic letters were posted on the door of the Jewish Agency building in Tbilisi, capital of Georgia. On 15 June, swastikas and antisemitic slogans were painted on the building for the third time that year. On 23 July, the newspaper Mdzleveli published an article claiming that Jews were killing Christians as part of a religious ritual.
Militants from the illegal Islamic organization Hizb ut-Tahrir and other antisemitic groups have been operating in the republic, where they have found supporters among the authorities and, especially among opposition parties such as Ar-Namys (Dignity), which accuse the authorities of using Hizb ut-Tahrir for political cleansing purposes.
There has been an increase in anti-Jewish feeling since the beginning of the second intifada in 2000. From May to October 2003 an antisemitic note accompanied legal proceedings concerning a book for schoolteachers, A Healthy Way of Life, written by a group of authors headed by Boris Shapiro, chairman of Menorah (the Society for Jewish Culture of Kyrgyzstan) and director of the country’s anti-AIDS center. Akin Toktaliev and Aziz Abdrasulov, acting on behalf of the Committee for the Protection of the Honor and Dignity of the Kyrgyz People, accused the book’s authors of inciting moral degeneration among the nation’s youth and sued Shapiro for one million US dollars. Criticism of the book published in oppositional newspapers revealed the antisemitic views of some of the figures involved. They presented Shapiro first as a Jew and head of the Jewish community and only afterwards as a doctor and claimed that he had maliciously circulated his book in thousands of schools.
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