Mother of Russian Anti-Semitism

“Bnei Levi” has undertaken the unhappy task of translating into English the recent anti-Semitic petition signed by 19 Russian parliamentarians and 500 other individuals. The petition, which calls for all Jewish groups to be banned, begins with a short collection of alleged citations from the Shulchan Oruch, a late Rabbinic commentary that the petition author claims demonstrates Jewish hostility towards Christianity and gentiles (1); the fact that Jewish leaders in Russia actually recognise the problematic nature of the passages cited is presented as an admission of Jewish malevolence. It goes on to assert that anti-Semitic incidents in Russia are actually the work of Jews, that the Jewish hope for the Messiah is really longing for the Anti-Christ, and that Jews are Satanists bent on global domination and undermining Russian identity. Jewish practice even includes human sacrifice:

the Jewish religion is anti-Christian and human-hating, reaching as far as ritual murders. Many cases of this extremism were proven in court (for example, see a study by a well-known scholar V. I. Dal “Rozyskaniye O Ubiyenii Yevremyimi Christianskih Mladentsev i Ispolzovanya Ih Krovi” [Investigation of Murders of Christian Babies by Jews and the Use of Their Blood], St. Petersburg, 1884).

Speaking to the Moscow News, Chief Rabbi Berl Lazar responded that the signers were either insane or

infinitely cynical. They know perfectly well that their accusations are lies…But they knowingly commit the forgery hoping that by playing the anti-Semitic card they can win more votes

The petition is a blow to the Jewish leadership’s strategy for dealing with increasing nationalism in Russia. As I noted on this blog back in May, Lazar supported the Moscow ban on Jehovah’s Witnesses, while Rabbi Adolf Shayevich spoke against new religious movements. The plan seemed to be to head off anti-Semitism by placing Judaism firmly within the Russian religious establishment, even if that meant abandoning any argument for general religious freedom. But, as could have been predicted, their acquiescence has only emboldened the bigots.

The petition was first published in a Russian newspaper named Rus Pravoslavnaya (Orthodox Russia), and is signed by the paper’s editor-in-chief. It was faxed to the AP by parliamentarian Alexander Krutov of the Rodina (“Motherland”) party bloc; deputies of the Communist and Liberal Democratic parties also signed. Actually, this is not very surprising. The Liberal Democratic party is led by the absurd Vladimir Zhirinovsky; Krutov (also spelt “Aleksandr Krutov”) is a long-time anti-Semite conspiracy theorist and Orthodox fundamentalist. The US-Russia Business Council provides a useful profile of the man:

Krutov, Alexander Nikolaevich

Affiliation: Rodina

DOB: October 13, 1947

Alexander Krutov holds the post of Deputy Chairman of the Committee on Information Policy and is a member of the Commission on the Credentials and Deputies’ Ethics Issues. He is also the author and the host of the TV program Russian House and the main editor of the monthly magazine, Russian House. Prior to his tenure in the Duma, Mr. Krutov occupied various positions in the central TV and radio broadcasting companies. In 1990, he served as people’s deputy, and from 1997 to 2000 he was named General Director of Moscoviya, a TV and radio broadcasting company. In 1986, he was the first journalist to broadcast the consequences of Chernobyl’s catastrophe. Alexander Krutov graduated from the journalism department of the Moscow State University.

“Russian House”, (or “Russkii Dom“, “Russky Dom”), is described by Finnish analyst Inna Rogatchi as “the most pro-fascist a’la Russe TV program”. Some choice quotes from the show, which promotes hardline Russian Orthodoxy, were reported by Anastasiia Boichenko in 1999. Most notable:

“In the murder of Nicholas II did the two-thousand-year-old struggle that has been conducted against Christianity since the crucifixion of Christ find its logical culmination?” Krutov insinuates delicately. It turns out that the answer is “no.” What is happening now is more beastly.  “On 17 July Orthodox people will mark the memorial day of the ritual murder of the tsarist martyrs”

The Union of Councils for Jews in the Former Soviet Union gives more details:

Over its ten years on the air, the show has focused mostly on standard Russian Orthodox topics. But it has also featured virulently antisemitic material and conducted interviews with extremist elements in the Russian Orthodox Church. Archimandrite Tikhon of the Sretensky Monastery, a leading voice in extremist Church circles, sits on the editorial board of the television program and reportedly has links to antisemitic groups. Representatives of the neo-Nazi group Russian National Unity and the Black Hundreds have been guests on the show.

In June 1999, the show hosted an “expert” who claimed that the Holocaust never took place. In shows earlier that year, Jews were accused of being part of a conspiracy to take over the world, and there was a call that kosher food ought to be sold in separate stores…Nevertheless, last year [2002] Patriarch Alexi II wrote a glowing letter of congratulations on the tenth anniversary of the show, stating that it “has earned its reputation as a fighter against any sort of untruth and a champion of the high ideals of Holy Russia. [‘Russian House’] gathers under its hospitable firmament all of those who love Russia.”

The UCSJ has also profiled Motherland/Rodina in depth. Shortly after 9/11 Krutov brought Lyndon LaRouche onto his show to explain world affairs. Krutov also rails against Chinese in Russia and, in 2002, Roman Catholicism:

The holy pious Prince Alexander Nevsky delivered a firm repulse to the aggression of Catholicism and showed how it is necessary to act with respect to uninvited guests.

Nevsky repelled the Roman Catholic Teutonic Knights in the thirteenth century – Krutov appears to be suggesting military action against ordinary Roman Catholics living in Russia today.

Putting the Motherland bloc in context, Rogatchi observes that:

For the very same racist activities people in many countries would face the court action, in nowadays Putin’s Russia not only they has become legitimatised, but intentionally were made legislators themselves. The only difference of Motherland block with a grass-root neo-nazis in Russia is that its leadership has been covered with a scientific titles, they are present themselves as doctors of science in different areas… there is hardly anyone in Russia who is mislead on the real stand of Motherland block ­ their speeches are quite clear and presents their views in full. The real problem is that too many of the Russian people, especially those aged between 45 and 55, seems to share this stand.

Further details on Russian political extremism and anti-Semitism can be found on the websites of SOVA and Panorama.ru (click on top right for English). The leading Russian researcher on the topic appears to be Alexander Verkhovsky. The US State Department Report on Global Anti-Semitism also contains some useful information, including the titbit that “an anti-Semitic novel, The Nameless Beast, by Yevgeny Chebalin, has been on sale in the State Duma’s bookstore since September 2003.” However, the report also notes that there have been prosecutions of public figures for instigating hatred.

UPDATE: Two reports from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency:

Russian legislators rebuked some lawmakers who signed a strongly anti-Semitic letter last week.

The letter later was revoked and most of its signatories repudiated their signatures, but the Duma resolution Friday said that the fact that such statements appear cannot leave the lower house of Parliament unconcerned. “A clear-cut anti-Semitic tendency of such statements is causing indignation and a sharp condemnation,” said the resolution, which passed by a vote of 306-58. “There should be no place in Russia for anti-Semitism, ethnic and religious strife.”

and

The majority of Russian viewers who called in to a national television channel during a debate on anti-Semitism in Russia supported a legislator who made frequent anti-Semitic remarks on the show.

Duma deputy Albert Makashov [the anti-Semite] squared off against former Soviet cosmonaut Alexei Leonov.

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(1) I haven’t been able to view the text itself in order to verify the quotes, and the petition is hardly a reliable source. But there are some hostile and unedifying passages in the Talmud, although given the context in which it was composed this is hardly surprising (you can find unpleasant passages in the writings of all religions, including in the New Testament). The many anti-Semitic websites that trumpet these passages (mixed in with outright forgeries and distortions) of course ignore both historical background and their marginal status within most forms of contemporary Judaism.

13 Responses

  1. Thanks for that, I have updated my entry as a result.

  2. […] Witnesses and ISKCON last year in the name of patriotism was less than edifying, and did them no favours). However, “Russian authority” has also been good to Ryakhovsky. A 2002 report from the […]

  3. […] campaign began back in January, as I covered at the time, and was led by the Orthodox Christian fundamentalist Alexander Krutov of the Rodina […]

  4. […] anti-Semitic letter is directly parallel with what happened in Russia back in January, when anti-Semites produced a letter calling for Russian Jewish groups to be banned. The letter […]

  5. […] given now? One would like to think that this shows that Putin is making a stand against the recent upsurge of anti-Semitism in the country; Failed Messiah, however, suggests a less noble motive: Chabad’s ‘chief […]

  6. […] the far-right Rodina (”Motherland”) political bloc. They’ve featured on this blog before; it was a Rodina parliamentarian, Alexander Krutov, who was behind the notorious petition which […]

  7. […] Rodina (”Motherland”) bloc is also virulently anti-Semitic: its members have called for Judaism to be banned and blamed Israel for the recent bombings in Jordan. Russian prosecutors are also currently […]

  8. […] Amedi, who is currently visiting Moscow. Amedi gushes over his hosts, shrugging off reports of resurgent anti-semitism in Russia and offering some authoritarian-homophobe solidarity with his Moscow counterpart: What do […]

  9. […] their caution may be understandable, but it has proved disastrous, with increased anti-Semitism resulting anyway. Mennini may find that his similar refusal to stand up for basic freedom of expression will […]

  10. […] Radio Liberty notes that Zatulin has similarly tough views on Georgia, and that he is an ally of the Motherland political bloc, which I discussed here. […]

  11. […] has links with the right-wing “Rodina” political bloc (a grouping which, as I blogged here, has some anti-Semitic associations). In December 2004 he spoke at the Rodina Congress: The Rodina […]

  12. […] United Russia; despite this sudden posture in defence of religion, it should be recalled that in 2005 members of Rodina signed a letter calling for Jewish groups to be banned. Rogozin has since […]

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