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February 21, 1986 - Image 59

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-02-21

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

60 Friday, February 21, 1986

r

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OBSERVATIONS

Radio Liberty
Is Still Under Fire

BY VICTOR M. BIENSTOCK
Special to The Jewish News

A radio station financed by
the United States Govern-
ment, operated by the United
States Information Agency
and broadcasting directly to
the people of the Soviet Union,
is carrying anti-Semitic ma-
terial selected by anti-Soviet
emigres, including programs
that blame the Jews for the ad-
vent of Bolshevism, defend
pogromists and condone
Ukrainian collaboration with
the Nazis in World War II.
The station is Radio Liberty,
based in Munich, Germany,
one of the three major stations
transmitting to the people in
the Soviet Union. It was run
by the Central Intelligence
Agency during the 1950s and
1960s as an instrument of the
cold war. In recruiting the sta-
tion's staff, says Lars-Erik
Nelson, a veteran hand on
Soviet affairs, the CIA "occa-
sionally overlooked records of
collaboration with Nazi Ger-
many." Now, after, many
vicissitudes, Radio Liberty is
ensconced in the USIA.
Radio Liberty policies have
long been under attack for
transmitting anti-Semitic and
anti-democratic material. Its
directors have conceded some
errors in judgment by the staff
but they deny that anti-
Semitic material was deliber-
ately carried. One Jewish
editor, however, was fired
because he publicly protested
the inflammatory anti-Jewish
nature of some broadcasts and
refused to agree to being
muzzled.
Radio Liberty critics com-
plain, according to Nelson, na-
tionally syndicated columnist
and Washington bureau chief
of the New York Daily News,
that "under the Reagan Ad-
ministration, lightwing
emigres have set the tone for
many important broadcasts."
Nelson, who has served as
Moscow correspondent for
Reuters, speaks Russian. His
critical report on Radio Liber-
ty appears in the Winter issue
of Foreign Policy, influential
quarterly on international af-
fairs published by the Carnegie
Endowment for International
Peace.
Noting complaints that
Radio Liberty commentators
"are more interested in re-
fighting obscure ideological
battes, promoting anti-demo-
cratic views, or vindicating
themselves in the eyes of their
former compatriots than in
serving U.S. interests—as
Radio Liberty's mandate re-
quires," Nelson charges that
more is involved than the iden-
tity of the station staff ,
members.
"The arcane ideological war-
fare and, on occasion, religious
bigotry found on Radio Libel.,
ty undermine the very, idea
that an • American-managed,
semi-independent station -pan s
serve both a Soviet audience

and American foreign policy
interests," he points out.
Designed as an outlet for
voices forbidden to speak in
the Soviet Union, he com-
ments, these voices, such as
that of Aleksandr Solzhen-
itsyn, are frequently sharply
critical of American democracy
and American life and strong-
ly anti-Semitic.
Nelson identifies three
waves of Soviet emigrants on
Radio Liberty's foreign-lang-
uage staff: those who them-
selves or their families left at
the time of the Bolshevik
Revolution, those who emi-
grated at the end of World
War II and those, pre-.
dominantly Jews, who were
allowed to emigrate in the
1970s.
"Russians and Ukrainians
who left immediately after
World War II have protested,
sometimes in crude, hand-
distributed cartoons, that
'non-Russians'—newly arrived
Jews—have too big a role in
determining the station's con-
tent. Their slogan on one
photocopied leaflet," Nelson
says "unconsciously parroted
the Nazis: 'Only Russians
should broadcast to Russia.' "
They also accuse the Jewish
newcomers of being friendlyto
socialism, sympathetic to
Eurocommunism and "down-
right pro-Soviet."
"In turn, some of the Jews
suspect, sometimes with good
reason, that the Russian and
Ukrainian emigres who turned
up in West Germany im-
mediately after World War II
must have collaborated with
the Nazis."
Radio Liberty and Radio
Free Europe, have always
operated under a long list of
"restraints" to protect their
objectivity and ensure max-
imum credibility. The stations
also had a strict set of pre-
broadcast review procedures,
most of which were eliminated
by two Reagan Administration
appointees, Frank Shakes-
peare and ex-Sen. James
Buckley, on the theory that
the stations should police
themselves.
"The complaints erupted
almost at once," Nelson says,
with charges that "right-wing
extremist Soviet and Eastern
European emigres'', had been
given free rein. Buckley issued
a memorandum in December,
1983 noting "a proliferation of
charges that the Russian Ser-
vice broadcasts contain anti-
Semitic references. "If true,"
he declared, "such breaches of
decency and policy are in-
tolerable and must be put to an
immediate end."
Buckley also warned that
anyone spreading false charges
of anti-Semitism would' be'
disciplined. ' HIS warning
against anti-Sernitisni in Radio
Liberty broadcasts apPafently. .
went unheeded. In Febinary,

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