Friday, Octo ber 18, 1963—THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS-2
.us . Poet
Commentary andC o l 3Ua rs ageo
U.S., USSR in UN
on Human Rights
Salvation for the Russian Conscience in
Jews have protested so often against prejudice and persecution
Yevgeny Yevtushenko's Search for Justice
UNITED NATIONS, N. Y.,
that complaints about abuses frequently were labeled "oversensi-
(JTA) — Israel opposed both
Many and frequent are the conflicting reports about Yevgeny tiveness."
Yevtushenko's Communist ideology and his attitude toward Jews
Such accusations have in themselves made some Jews so very the United States and the Soviet
Union in a debate in the Gen-
and the problems created by anti-Semitism. Ever since the publi- sensitive that they became hesitant in their complaints.
Assembly's committee deal-
cation of his poem "Babi Yar," that powerful condemnation of
These psychological developments deserve special diagnosis. eral
Soviet indifference to the Jewish issue and to the sufferings What makes people panicky when they feel they should register ing with human rights, as the
that were endured by the Jews under the Nazis, Yevtushenko's complaints about indecencies but are afraid to utter a sound lest group continued to debate a
draft United Nations declara-
star seethed to be dimming and falling, only to rise up again they should be told that they are too sensitive?
tion that would call for the
from time to time and to regain its glow.
There are many examples of sensitiveness and of the dangers elimination of all racial discrim-
Only a few weeks ago, there was a report from Moscow that of being accused of oversensitiveness.
Yevtushenko was in a repentant mood. The report followed by
A few examples, of occurrences in the past week, may suffice
One of the proposed articles
only a few days the appearance of Yevtushenko's "A Precocious to illustrate the point:
the draft was being backed by
Autobiography," a most remarkable document that has been
In a report in one of the local newspapers on the develop- in
the Soviet Union, calling for the
translated from the Russian by Andrew R. MacAndrew and ments in the Mafia crimes that were exposed by Police Commis- disbanding
and prohibition of all
published by E. P. Dutton & Co. (201 Park Ave. S., NY3).
sioner George Edwards, the writer, describing the Steren Assembly "racist and neo-Fascist
One thing is certain: there is no doubt about Yevtushenko's Club, which formerly was known as the Star Social Club, struck tions." Dr. Eliezer Yapou, Is-
anti-Stalinism. In this most unusual autobiographical work, the on a remarkable discovery: he wrote: "Steren is the Hebrew word rael's representative in the com-
Russian poet condemns the doctors' "plot" hatched by Stalin for star."
opposed the Russian
We have no objection to getting credit for many things asi mittee,
as a means of making the Jews the scapegoats again and of
phrasing as "vague and subject
to arbitrary interpretation."
damning the entire Jewish group in Russia as both disloyal being Hebraic, but
it is the German word for star.
Soviet press has frequent-
and dishonorable. Yevtushenko describes how he challenged word:
And so, a number of people resented the application: where (The
branded Zionism and Jewish
anti-Semites and with what bitterness he repudiated Stalin.
do we come in, they asked?; why should we be dragged into the ly
By the same token, there is no doubt in the reader's mind crime wave? They felt that, by inference, Jews were thus linked religious activities as "neo-
that Yevtushenko acts with great sincerity in dealing with the to the Mafia crime wave? There is no doubt that the well-meaning Fascist.")
Dr. Yapou opposed the United
entire issue of anti-Semitism. He abhors it and speaks up against reporter had blundered innocently; but one should not call the
States view, which would call
complainants sensitive: if reporters and others who have a re- only
it with frankness and determination.
for "condemning" racist
Yevtushenko admits that Stalin had a love for Lenin. He also sponsibility to the public are to be induced to check on their facts organizations. He did not name
credits him with "a strong and vivid personality." He states that
either the U.S.A. or the USSR
when Stalin wanted to, he knew how to charm people. He are called to public attention.
in his intervention but, voiced
charmed Gorky and Barbusse. In 1937, the cruellest year of the
A recent arrival in this country—a Jewish woman who is now strong backing for a Brazilian
purges, he managed to charm that tough and experienced observer, a citizen
who has not mastered the language sufficiently to draft which holds that all groups
Lion Feuchtwanger." But in reality, he asserts, "Stalin distorted speak up but
with eloquence, was angered by a remark by a guest propagandizing racial superior-
Lenin's ideas, because to Lenin—and this was the whole meaning speaker at a women's public meeting here last week that the Jews ity or inciting to hatred be "pun-
of his work—communism was to serve man, whereas under Stalin of Bombay are all rich and all snobs. She was moved to an even ishable under criminal law," be
it appeared that man served communism."
more blistering anger when the guest speaker saw fit to justify her prohibited and disbanded.
Yevtushenko defends the Russians, declaring that "anti- country's (India's) failure to give full recognition to Israel by re-
Asserting that Israel was op-
Semitism is not in the least natural to the Russian people, any sorting to abuse against Israel, calling the Jewish State a theocracy, posed to censorship against any
more than to any other people. It is always grafted on. In etc.
group, Dr. Yapou told the com-
Russia anti-Seinitism was artificially stirred up under the Tsars.
The result of this unfortunate episode, which could have been mittee: "Incitement is a call for
It was just as artificially stirred up at various times under avoided if others who are more articulate had set the visiting lady action, not an expression of
Stalin. But to me, both as a Russian and as a man to whom straight and had indicated to her plainly her prejudices, was that opinion. To shout 'Jews to the
Lenin's teaching is dearer than anything in the world, anti- the indignant lady's fellow-Jews were the ones who charged her crematoria' is not an expression
with being oversensitive. These fellow-Jews certainly learned fast of an idea but a call for action
Semitism has always been doubly repulsive."
What Yevtushenko states in relation to himself, and in from misled non-Jewish friends. It's so easy to charge oversensi- — and action can be countered
condemnation of Stalin are understandable; but his generalization tiveness as a defense mechanism!
Tell us, please, didn't the protesting lady have a right to
about. the Russian people and the "grafting on" of anti-Semitism
are, deplorably, subject to challenge. What has happened in challenge the guest speaker? Her accusers said to her, "the lady
Russia would have been inconceivable had his diagnosis been was our guest and should not have been abused?" Indeed, does a Bundestag President
applicable to his people. There seems to be too much validity guest (and this one was paid for delivering her lecture and the Calls for Diplomatic
to the charge that hatred for Jewry is ingrained in the Russian accompanying tirade) have the right to abuse her hosts?
(Organizational heads should be much more careful in their Ties With Israel
mind and heart! It stems from the Russian church, from nobility
of speakers, lest more anti-Semites, whether under
as well as clergy.
BONN, (JTA) — Dr. Eugen
cloak of being UN delegates or authorities on the chosen
Nevertheless the Yevtushenko thesis is one of the most the
Gerstenmaier, president of the
heartening in our times. Here is a great poet who defies Corn-
And there is a third item that may not fit in as well, but Bundestag, West Germany's
munist and populist sentiments; he argues "until I was hoarse" nevertheless
a place in this discussion: an interfaith group, lower house, renewed his call
with another Russian poet against anti-Semitism and when both which counts has
its supporters a large number of Jews, Tuesday for diplomatic rela-
are watching a film portraying a po gr om during which common arranged for an annual dinner to be held on a Friday night. It was tions with Israel, asserting that
criminals was shouting "Kill the Jews—save Russia!" he turns to noticed and objected to, and the date may be changed. But there West Germany was "morally
poet K and asks, "Do you really want to be like them?" Yevtu- were protests: perhaps the change in date will affect the appear- obligated" to seek such rela-
shenko reports the reply:
ance of a great guest star!
"He drew sharply away from me and said in a hard cold
He spoke at the opening in
Here, too, there is room for warning against submission to
voice: 'We are dialectical materialists. Not everything from the unwise actions and the possible raising of the cry of oversensitivity. Cologne of an exhibit of the
past should be discarded, Zhenya.' His eyes flashed hatred . . . I There are principles involved in human relations, and an affair of 2,000-year history of Rhenish
looked at him in horror; I couldn't understand what sort of a the Sabbath eve when Jews are involved should be viewed as not Jews and stressed the need for
a "normalization" of relations
man this was . . ."
Your commentator, who may now be treading on dangerous between the two countries de-
"From that time on," Yevtushenko writes, "the poet K
became for me the enemy of communism . . ." He realized that ground, made a search for authoritative opinions on sensitiveness. spite "difficulties and certain
risks" involved for West Ger-
there was a struggle ahead. He read "the barely disguised anti- Here are three definitions of sensitiveness:
Edmund Burke (1729-97), English orator and statesman: "That many. This was understood to
Semitic articles in the press." He observed "the officials' distrust
be a reference to the opposition
chastity of honor which felt a stain like a wound."
of simple people."
Joseph Addison (1672-1719), English essayist: "Quick sensitive- of the Bonn Foreign Ministry
Then Stalin died. A turning point came into his life, the
to such ties out of fears that
from a ready understanding."
beginning of his realization of "the full measure of Stalin's ness is inseparable "There
are moments when petty slights are the Arab countries might react
guilt," the rejection of the doctors' plot libel, the expose of harder to bear than ever a serious injury. Men have died of a by recognition of Communist
Beria, the creation of "Babi Yar."
States Yevtushenko: "I had long wanted to write a poem on
There are 2,200 objects on
It is no wonder that the indigant lady who protested against
anti-Semitism. But only after I had been in Kiev and had seen the insults of a guest speaker, who happens also to have the dis- loan from 15 countries in the
Babi Yar with my own eyes did the poetic form come to me. I tinction of being a member of her country's delegation to the UN, exhibit, including ancient vol-
wrote the poem in only a few hours after my return to Moscow. should have told the non-Jewish lady, "why do you come to my umes, prayerbooks, medieval or-
That evening I gave a talk on Cuba at the Polytechnical Institute. synagogue to insult me?" It was a justified condemnation of an dinances and pictures and docu-
After my talk I read `Babi Yar' for the first time. Ordinarily I orator who had the audacity to generalize and to condemn all Jews ments of the Nazi destruction
recite my poems by heart but this time I was so agitated that I in the largest Jewish community in her country, for their wealth— of the ancient Jewish communi-
had to have the text in front of me. When I finished there was if they really all have the affluence the offending lady has (she is ties that lived on the banks of
dead silence. I stood fidgeting with the paper, afraid to look up. reported to be occuping a 15-room home)—and to brand them as the Rhine from the Swiss to The
When I did I saw that the entire audience had risen to their feet; being snobs. Are we all oversensitive?
then applause exploded and went on for a good ten minutes.
People leaped onto the stage and embraced me. My eyes were
full of tears."
Ilistadrues 40th Anniversary Event
In view of the conflicting reports about Yevtushenko and the
reaction to "Babi Yar" his explanation of the aftereffects is Is 'American Salute to Israel Pioneers'
important. "I was not of course in any danger," he states. "Out
NEW YORK, (JTA) — An dent of the National Committee man of the Israel Histadrut
of some 20,000 letters written to me about `Babi Yar,' only 30 or
for Labor Israel, sponsor or the Campaign, credited the generos-
40 were abusive and they were all unsigned and in obviously enthusiastic audience of 16,000 Israel
Histadrut Campaign, call- ity of the American people and
disguised handwriting. In our country it is the bastards who are joined in an "All American Sa- ed Mrs.
Meir "one of the most the daring of Israel's "founding
in danger . . .
lute to Israel's Pioneers" at Ma- brilliant women of the world, fathers" for the rapid develop-
"The Western press made a sensation of the attacks on dison Square Garden. The event one of the outstanding personal- ment of that country during the
`Babi Yar,' claiming that they proved the existence of anti-Semitism marked the beginning of the ities of our time. She is one of past 40 years. "Histadrut itself
in the Soviet Union, and some of these papers distorted the 40th anniversary year of the the people who has risen to lead- has grown from 6,000 workers in
meaning of my poem to suit their own ends. But as far as I was Israel Histadrut Campaign.
ership, not only in the State of a few fields to nearl a million
concerned, the two attacks on me in Literature and Life were less
During the past four decades, Israel but in the arena of inter- workers covering the entire
significant than the reaction of the wide and varied public— the campaign has raised over national affairs. She personifies spectrum of creative labor," he
workers, collective farmers, intellectuals and students — who $60,000,000 for a comprehensive the ideals of Labor Israel. She is stated. "Americans have been
program that now covers more a woman of valor. She is a sim- full partners in this process of
supported me at the difficult moment."
There is hopeful note in Yevtushenko's "Precocious Autobiog- than 70 per cent of the popula- pie woman in manner, an aris- performing miracles. We salute
toOrat in the battle for human the pioneers of Histadrut — for-
raphy." It is the testament of a noble soul who seeks spiritual tion of Israel.
mer Prime Minister David Ben-
Mrs. Golda Meir, Foreign dignity."
salvation for his people. He believes that he has attained the
Gurion, the late President Izhak
high level of decency that goes with the search for the truth and
and other giants of the
for justice. There is so much more hope for the USSR when there honor at the fete. In presenting, of the Farbrand Labor Zionist Ben-Zvi
her, Joseph Schlossberg, presi- Order and a national vice-chair- Jewish renaissance."
is a Yevtushenko!