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February 23, 1990 - Image 17

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-02-23

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

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there are so many," said
Micah Naftalin, national di-
rector of the Union of Coun-
cils for Soviet Jews, the
group that has been the most
assertive in alleging wide-
spread anti-Semitism in the
Soviet Union.
Despite reports of pogroms
in Kiev and elsewhere, there
is no evidence that any such
violence has taken place.
Naftalin suspects some of
the rumors are being
planted deliberately,
possibly by ultra-nationalist
groups themselves. "While
there is no serious threat of
pogroms right now," Naf-
talin said, "the number of
serious incidents, and the
number of threats, is ac-
celerating exponentially."
Part of the frustration for
Soviet Jewry activists on
this side of the ocean is the
feeling of helplessness in the
face of a Soviet Union in
turmoil. Two years ago,
strong pressure from Wash-
ington kept the human
rights issue at the top of the
agenda in international
arms reductions negotia-
tions; today, with the Cold
War winding down and an
unprecedented flood of
Soviet Jews leaving that
country, Soviet Jewry ac-
tivists have lost much of
their leverage.
At the same time, Soviet
president Mikhail Gor-
bachev is piloting an out-of-
control roller coaster of a
country. His own political
survival, and the survival of
the shattered Soviet econo-
my, are at the top of Gor-
bachev's agenda, not the
plight of his nation's Jews.
And the fact is that the ris-
ing rhetoric of anti-Semitism
is loudest from those forces
that most directly threaten
Gorbachev's power.
Soviet Jewry activists fear
that Gorbachev's power to
condemn anti-Semitism now
is limited, and that if na-
tionalists succeed in depos-
ing him, Soviet Jews will be
in great danger.
Among Soviet Jewry ac-
tivists here in Washington,
there is a haunting sense
that history demands that
the unbelievable be believ-
ed. Their emotions tell them
that if mistakes are made,
they should be made on the
side of caution.
Nobody needs to be
reminded that when Adolph
Hitler began his campaign
against the Jews, people in
this country — Jews includ-

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THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

17

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