Are Russian Jews in Danger?
Most educated Americans are familiar with at least some aspects of Russian anti-Semitism from their reading; from what they know about the history of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion; from echoes that have reached them concerning the liquidation of the Yiddish theater and the Yiddish writers’ union in 1948-49, Stalin’s infamous “Doctors’ Plot” of 1952, or the harsh anti-Zionist and anti-Israel rhetoric that was a permanent feature of Soviet foreign policy from the 1960′s to Gorbachev. Many Americans, too, have heard of today’s extreme nationalist party, Pamyat, or of the group of Russian “Village Prose” writers who in recent years have galvanized traditional Russian xenophobia and engaged in vicious anti-Semitic and anti-Western rhetoric. Some may even know of Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the political figure whom many Russian Jews today call “our Hitler” and who in the 1991 presidential elections captured third place after Boris Yeltsin with seven million votes.
Nevertheless, although present-day anti-Semitism in Russia extends well beyond the efforts of Pamyat, it has been little discussed in the American press over the past two years and is rarely mentioned even in serious analyses of Russian society or politics. Even among Jews, both in the United States and Israel, Russian anti-Semitism seems to have been displaced by the question of whether Russian society at large will crumble under the pressure of hyperinflation and political factionalism.
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