Anti-Semitism in the USSR

In the third letter of her series (Tribune July 18), K. Y. Rintoul has attempted to create a ‘Zionist’ smokescreen in order to obscure the very real problem of soviet anti-Semitism.

She implies that anti-Semitism has existed only since ‘American-trained General Dayan launched a six day war against the Arab countries’. This, as she should know by now, is completely false. Whereas other peoples in the Soviet Union have been restored to their full national and cultural rights since the death of Stalin, the Jews still remain oppressed in every way.

In eastern Europe several socialist states are fiercely anti-Zionist, yet treat their Jewish communities well, according them full national rights.

Miss Rintoul only considers specifically religious discrimination against the Jews. She must surely be aware that this is only part of a wider national discrimination. Anti-Semitism occurs in the Soviet Union because Jews are discriminated against on a racial basis which contains the usual accompanying features of culture and religion.

Following a report listing specific areas of soviet anti-Semitism submitted to the executive committee of the British Communist party in April 1966 (Tribune July 1 1966), the executive adopted a statement demanding that ‘ the ideological struggle against the remnants of anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union be improved’ and that ‘greater care should be exercised in the conducting of ideological work in religion and nationalism so as to avoid impermissible crudities which which have nothing to do with a principled Marxist position.’ It is further pointed out that these’ could be exploited by anti-Semites to further anti-Semitism’. (Morning Star May 25 1966)

In the Soviet Union the Soviet Human Rights movement has adopted the fight against officially encouraged anti-Semitism and the right of emigration to Israel as fundamental issues, along with the invasion of Czechoslovakia and the oppression of Soviet writers.

Boris Kochubievsky, a 30 year old engineer, is now under arrest in a Soviet prison, in theory, for spreading anti-Soviet slander. His ‘crime’ which does contradict Soviet laws, was to apply for an exit permit to emigrate to Israel. On September 28 1968, he sent a letter to Mr Brezhnev, protesting against anti-Semitism and asking to go to Israel, of which the following is an extract:

I am a Jew. I want to live in the Jewish state just as it is the right of a Ukrainian to live in the Ukraine, the right of a Russian to live in Russia, the right of a Georgian to live in Georgia. I want to live in israel.

I want my children to study in a school in the Hebrew language. I want to read Jewish newspapers. i want to go to a Jewish theatre. What is bad in this? What is my crime? Most of my relatives have been shot by the fascists. My father has been killed and his parents have been killed. had they been alive, they would have stood at my side. Let me go!

the cry of Soviet Jewry for help is loud and clear. It must be the duty of every socialist to hear this cry and to answer it. the Jews of the Soviet Union must not be forgotten.

Tribune 25 July 1969

(with Jonathan Lewis)

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