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September 06, 1991 - Image 174

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1991-09-06

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

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174

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 6, 1991

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Washington (JTA) — The
failure of the coup staged
this week by hard-liners in
Moscow is likely to be a net
gain for the country's sizable
Jewish minority, Soviet ex-
perts and advocates for
Soviet Jewry agree.
It is likely to embolden the
restored government of Pres-
ident Mikhail Gorbachev to
crack down on the same
ultra- conservative elements
within the Communist Party
that have opposed emigra-
tion reform and other lib-
eralized policies that have
generally benefited Jews.
Martin Wenick, executive
director of the National Con-
ference on Soviet Jewry, said
the episode will "probably
increase the potential for
emigration" from the Soviet
Union.
There is a much greater
likelihood that "the au-
thorities will fully live up to
their constitutional and
international obligations"
relating to emigration, Mr.
Wenick said.
Activists point out that
Soviet Jews will feel polit-
ically secure in the short
term, but will wonder when
such a coup attempt might
occur again.
Soviet Jews will "start
asking if there will be next
time," said Rabbi A. James
Rudin of the American Jew-
ish Committee, and who was
a co-founder of the Inter-
religious Task Force on
Soviet Jewry.
Pamela Cohen, president
of the Union of Councils for
Soviet Jews, said the nerve-
racking events of this week
would confirm that "the
fears of Soviet Jews are
justified, and I think that
this will serve to spur on the
aliyah and the emigration."
But Adam Garfinkle,
senior analyst at the Foreign
Policy Research Institute in
Philadelphia, said that if
Soviet Jews emigrate in
larger numbers, it will likely
have more to do with con-
cern about basic survival
this coming winter than any
fallout from the coup.
He said Soviet Jews are
having more difficulty than
other Soviet citizens in
"hoarding" necessities in
expectation of supply shor-
tages this winter.
Such hoarding is often
done by bribing those who
transport goods throughout
the country. But "it's harder
for Jews to make bribes in
the Soviet Union because
(suppliers) just don't trust
them," Mr. Garfinkle said.

On the other hand, he said,
some Soviet Jews "will
imagine that there is a pro-
spect for fundamental
reform" that would make
the Soviet Union "a more
habitable place."
A State Department ex-
pert on Soviet Jewry called
the failed coup an "absolute
watershed in Soviet politics,
basically because the bad
guys were exposed and
defeated."
As a result, the Soviet
government will move in a
more "peaceful, democratic
direction," which will be
"better for everybody," the
official said.
But in the aftermath of the
coup, the country's republics
may be granted greater
autonomy, and that may
unleash a new outpouring of
ethnic nationalism.
Mr. Wenick of the Nation-
al Conference said he ex-
pects Soviet Jews to -"get
caught up in the middle of
that," and is especially con- •
cerned about anti-Semitic
sentiment in the Ukraine
and Moldavia.

Soviet Jewry analysts
were divided in their
assessment of the failed
coup's 'impact on anti-
Semitic groups, such as
Pamyat, that emerged as
Mr. Gorbachev lifted restric-
tions on free expression.
Mr. Cohen of the Union of
Councils said that Jews
won't feel more secure until
the Soviet courts impose
tough penalties for "hate
crimes" committed against
Jews.
He said that aside from a
two-year prison sentence
given to one Pamyat mem-
ber for disrupting a January
1990 meeting of liberal
writers in Moscow, there
have been no attempts to
prosecute members of the
anti-Semitic group.
The State Department of-
ficial said Soviet Jews, like
other minorities, could eas-
ily remain targets of hatred
if the country's enormous
economic, political and so-
cial problems are not solved.
"Non-official targeting of
violence is possible," he said.
But Jack Matlock, who
just stepped down as U.S.
ambassador to Moscow, told
ABC News that if the re-
stored Soviet government con-
tinues "to move toward con-
stitutional rule, you will find
that the ability of these right-
wing forces to stir up people
and to appear to be a threat
will be reduced. "

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