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January 21, 1994 - Image 54

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1994-01-21

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

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national movement."
Rabbi Baker, who was in
Germany when the results of
the Russian vote were an-
nounced, does not believe Mr.

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Ultra-nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky: Will his win accelerate Europe's
extremist surge?

tionalist minions in Russia's
parliamentary elections, and
the prospects that he now has
a solid foundation for an ex-
pected 1996 challenge to Russ-
ian President Boris Yeltsin.
For Jewish leaders, one as-
pect of these developments is
particularly troubling: The pos-
sibility that Mr. Zhirinovsky's
emergence as a powerful figure
in Russian politics, and his long-
standing connections to neo-
Nazis and other zealots
throughout Europe, may accel-
erate the extremist surge
throughout that continent.
That possibility was high-
lighted recently when Mr. Zhiri-
novsky, hot on the heels of the
electoral successes of his mis-
named Liberal Democratic Par-
ty, met with Gerhard Frey, who
heads the German People's
Union, one of the largest far-
right parties in Germany.
"Even before the Russian
elections, German authorities
were concerned that there was
a greater degree of organization
and cooperation among neo-
Nazis than they thought," said
Rabbi Andy Baker, the Ameri-
can Jewish Committee's direc-
tor of eastern European affairs.
"Zhirinovsky's visit," he said,
"gives German neo-Nazis a

Zhirinovsky's showing will au-
tomatically unify neo-Nazi or-
ganizations throughout Europe.
He is too unstable, said the rab-
bi, and his extreme brand of
Russian nationalism probably

will conflict with the intense na-
tionalism of right-wing groups
in neighboring countries.
"But it adds to the specter of
an international link between
these various neo-Nazi groups,"
he said. "And that is very trou-
bling."
Other Jewish activists sug-
gested that Mr. Zhirinovsky's
ties to German and Austrian
neo-Nazis may attract the at-
tention of a White House that
has tried hard to ignore the
problem of violent extremism
in Germany.
Meanwhile, some Jewish
groups have urged the admin-
istration to reject Mr. Zhiri-
novsky's request to meet with
President Clinton during the
president's upcoming trip to
Russia. In a letter to the presi-
dent, Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean
of the Simon Wiesenthal Cen-
ter, emphasized the symbolic
importance of Mr. Zhirinovsky's
meetings with German ex-
tremists, which was the sole
purpose of his first foreign trip
after the Russian election.
"At this early stage of ... [Mr.
Zhirinovsky's] political ascen-
dancy, he has paid no price for
his hatred, no penalty for his
bigotry," Rabbi Hier wrote. "A
meeting with the president of
the United States — even a
group photo opportunity —
would provide Zhirinovsky with
the very international legiti-
macy he covets and needs in his
drive to be Russia's next presi-
dent."

Are U.S. Jews
Less Pro-Israel?

With violence by Palestinians
and Jewish settlers growing
and talks aimed at implement-
ing Israel's pullout from Gaza
and Jericho well behind sched-
ule, Israeli diplomats here are
increasingly concerned about
slippage in support for the Is-
raeli-PLO accord among Amer-
ican Jews.
Israeli officials, say several
sources, are particularly
alarmed by the recent triumph
of an insurgent slate at the
Zionist Organization of Ameri-
ca's national convention in
Washington, a change that
could signal a reversal in the
group's traditional policy of not
speaking out against Israeli
policies.
"The mainstream of the

American Jewish community
is still strongly supportive," said
one Israeli official. "But we de-
tect more doubts and more ob-
jections being raised openly.
The delay in the implementa-
tion talks has exacerbated
that."
In the past two weeks, the
embassy in Washington has
quietly asked Jewish groups to
increase efforts to sell the peace
talks. The embassy also is sat-
urating the country with speak-
ers who explain the complex
peace process to Jewish groups.
Sources also say that Foreign
Minister Shimon Peres' visit to
the United States next month
is primarily intended to bolster
support in the Jewish commu-
nity.

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