Some Attitudes Toward Jews
Formalist in the Kremlin
The Jews are a nuisance to Mr. Khrushchev, and he must wish that he could wake one morning and find that they had disappeared-though not by emigration, of course. Writing to Bertrand Russell, talking with foreign visitors, even making speeches to Russian intellectuals, he has to deny Soviet anti-Semitism. Khrushchev is not to be suspected of self-doubt, but it is just barely possible that what infuriates him all the more is a tiny worry he may have about the logic of his denials.
Not that he is worried when he proves to foreigners the impossibility of Soviet anti-Semitism by adducing the number of Jewish wives of the Soviet elite. Only the unfortunate inhabitants of capitalist countries will perceive a likeness between “some of my best friends are Jews” and “some of our best wives are Jewesses.” But when Khrushchev tells Russell that the Soviet Union overcomes crime “by educating and re-educating” criminals, it may occur even to him that it is hard to educate someone (for instance, a speculator, real or alleged, or an embezzler) who has been shot by the executioner. Our ancestors believed that after death they would be rewarded by an eternity of study in Paradise, but that is not a tenet of dialectical materialism. When Khrushchev tells Russell: “There never has been and there is not any policy of anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union, since the very nature of our multinational socialist state precludes the possibility of such a policy,” can he really have forgotten the Doctors’ Plot? After Stalin’s death the “collective leadership”-it all seems so long ago-denounced the accusation against the doctors as an attempt to “inflame feelings of national enmity,” which is to say, as a policy of anti-Semitism. And if Khrushchev tells Russell that anti-Semitism has nothing to do with the campaign against economic criminals, because others besides Jews have been accused and sentenced, can he have entirely forgotten that in the Doctors’ Plot, too, not all the accused were Jews? Only a majority of them were, as only a majority of the executed so-called embezzlers and speculators have been Jews.
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