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December 29, 1989 - Image 40

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-12-29

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

MEDIA MONITOR

DECORATE

Will Jews Be Targets
In USSR In 90s?

ARTHUR J. MAGIDA

Special to The Jewish News

W

ill there be a blood-
bath of Soviet in-
tellectuals, former
Communist Party members
— and Jews — in the USSR
in the coming decade?
That's the frightening
scenario outlined by a Soviet
screenwriter and published
last June in Iskusstvo Kino,
the official journal of the
Soviet film industry, and
which Time essayist David
Aikman sees as altogether
possible if the Soviet Union
collapses in the next few
years, an eventuality for

which, says Aikman,
"evidence is widespread."
"Economically," writes
Aikman, "the country is
barely functional. At least
43 million Soviets live below
the official poverty level of
75 rubles a month ($1,500
annually), and some regions
of the country have resorted
to widespread rationing of
even the most essential
goods."
Aikman envisions two
ways in which a Soviet na-
tional catastrophe might
occur: a "revolution from
below," a hint of which sur-
faced last summer when half
a million Soviets went on
strike; and a coup from the

right. This latter event
would be engineered by the
army, perhaps in conjunc-
tion with the KGB.
"The coup menace," writes
Allman., "is exacerbated by
the growing strength of Rus-
sian ultra-nationalist
organizations. Extremist
groups like Pamyat have
targeted Jews (a paranoid
Jewish-Masonic conspiracy
theory), 'intellectuals,' and
aussophobes' as scapegoats
for national decline. The na-
tionalists are at heart anti-
Communist, but their appeal
overlaps with a growing
blue-collar nostalgia for the
despotic simplicity of the
Stalinist era."

Steinsaltz Featured
In 'People'

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Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz is
keeping some racy company
these days. The Dec. 18 issue
of People magazine features
Sean Connery — "The Sex-
iest Man Alive"— on its
cover. Other sexual notables
are Peter Jennings (the
"Sexiest Anchor"), Jeff
Bridges ( the "Sexiest
Second-Generation Actor")
and 13-year-old Fred Savage
of TV's "Wonder Years"
("Sexiest Man, Minor
Category").
Two pages after these
hunks; large and small, is a
one-page article on Rabbi
Steinsaltz, the Jerusalem
scholar whose English edi-

tion of his Hebrew trans-
lation of the Talmud is being
published by Random
House. Steinsaltz, 52, has
been translating the Talmud
since he was 27, a feat that
he says "required a com-
bination of hubris and self-
effacement."
"What I'm doing just had
to be done," Steinsaltz told
People. "I had the feeling
that people are blind, while I
see, and that it's my duty to
lend my sight to them."
Half-way through
translating the entire
Talmud into Hebrew, Stein-
saltz says he is "in a hurry,
working against time. Every

Rabbi Steinsaltz:
Racy company.
day is critical... It's the soul
of the Jewish nation that I'm
trying to salvage."

N.Y. Mayoral Strategy
Irked Arabs And Jews

In their apparent assump-
tion that they would offend
the Jews of Gotham, neither
candidate in New York's re-
cent mayoral election —
Rudolph Giuliani and David
Dinkins — met with any
Arab-Americans. This tactic
infuriated not only Arab-
Americans but Jews.
"To act as Dinkins and
Giuliani did is to stereotype
New York's Jews," wrote
columnist Nat Hentoff in the
Dec. 12 Village Voice. The
two campaigns "also reveal-
ed an insulting ignorance of
Jews. And, of course, they
also disclosed their own
moral cowardice."
Privately, Hentoff was told
that neither candidate had a
chance of being elected if he
had met with Arab-
Americans. But Hentoff

checked with several Jewish
leaders in New York — and
none said (at least, in retro-
spect) that they would have
been offended by liaisons
between Dinkins or Giulinai
and Arab-Americans.
Abraham Foxrnan, exec-
utive director of the Anti-
Defamation League, said the
"overcautious approach by
the candidates is almost in-
sulting to the Jewish com-
munity." David Zweibel, di-
rector of government affairs
and general counsel of
Agudath Israel in America,
said there would have been
no complaints "across the
board" from Jewish groups.
And Phil Baum, associate
director of the American
Jewish Congress, said in-
cluding Arab-Americans in
either candidate's campaign

"would have played
differently to individual
Jews. A Jew in one part of
the city, the West Side,
might have reacted
differently from a Jew in
Borough Park .... To
stereotype all Jews as reac-
ting in the same way is in-
sulting."
Hentoff noted that Arab-
Americans' inclusion in
campaigns outside of New
York City did not provoke
objections from Jewish
groups. Among these were
the victorious campaigns of
Douglas Wilder for governor
of Virginia and Norman Rice
for mayor of Seattle.
"In provincial New York,
however," noted Hentoff,
"both the 'progressives' and
the Republicans want no
part of Arab-Americans." ❑

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