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How the Soviet Union Seeded Antisemitism into The Nation

October 7th, 2012 - 4:33 am

In 2004, The Nation heavily advertised a book, Unmasking Israel’s Most Dangerous Myths, which loudly proclaimed the Holocaust to be fictional. The book labeled the Holocaust a “historical myth cited to justify Zionist aggression and repression.” The ad was illustrated with various symbols, among them a swastika.[viii]

There is good reason to believe that The Nation‘s conversion to antisemitism was similarly born in Moscow. Just before the appearance of the above Holocaust-denial advertising, a letter from ninety-eight U.S. senators expressing concern about the rise of antisemitism in the Russian Federation had been sent to President Putin. [ix] The senators’ letter evidently fell on deaf ears. In January 2005, nineteen members of the Duma sent a letter to Russia’s prosecutor general accusing the Jews of being on the payroll of American Zionism, and asking that all Jewish organizations in Russia be banned. The letter also compared Judaism to Satanism and accused Jews of ritual murder.[x]

Apparently, The Nation again obediently fell into line. The above-mentioned article of September 28, 2012, asked:

What is guiding Netanyahu’s actions? Is anything holding him back? Maybe, it’s just the red light that he’s getting from Washington. … To free his hand, so far this year Netanyahu has tilted heavily toward Mitt Romney, who seems ready to give Israel a green light. In his paranoid fog, however, Netanyahu may be dimly aware that Romney isn’t going to win the election in November, and his freedom to act against Iran will be constrained for the next few years. And thankfully, even deranged people can be held in straitjackets.

The U.S. is, of course, the land of  free speech, but antisemitism, that devastating weapon of the emotions so successfully wielded by Stalin and Hitler, is un-American. “Hope is a key word in the vocabulary of men and women like myself and so many others who discovered in America the strength to overcome cynicism and despair,”[xi] stated Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel, who was born in Romania, as I was. Wiesel knows better than anyone what real hope means. It was the hope that America would defeat the Nazis and its antisemitism during World War II that kept him alive in the German death camp.

There are millions of other Americans who, like Wiesel and like me, started their lives from scratch for the privilege of living in this magnanimous land of freedom for all, irrespective of their religion. Let’s hope that The Nation will become American again, and return to its founding prospectus of 1865:

The Nation will not be the organ of any party, sect, or body. It will, on the contrary, make an earnest effort to bring to the discussion of political and social questions a really critical spirit, and to wage war upon the vices of violence, exaggeration and misrepresentation by which so much of the political writing of the day is marred.

“You are a free man, General,” said the U.S. government official who greeted me on that memorable day of July 28, 1978, after the U.S. military plane that had brought me to freedom landed at Andrews Air Force Base. Many years after that unforgettable day, I became friends with a Holocaust survivor whose eyes always misted up whenever he talked about what one of the American soldiers who had liberated his concentration camp had told him: “You’re a free man!” That’s the way my eyes are, whenever I think back on those solemn words.

Freedom can be shackled, but never killed. Let’s hope The Nation will learn that too.

 


[i] “Duma Deputy calls for the Extermination of all Jews in Russia,” November 10, 1998, published at www.fsumonitor.com.

[ii] Jean Mackenzie, “Anti-Semitism is resurfacing in Russia,” Boston Globe, November 8, 1998

[iv] Toland at 548.

[v] http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5h2kt7YEySucnIMNA8U5rFtlb9iiQ

[viii] http://www.adl.org/media_watch/magazines/20040421-The+Nation.htm

[ix] Text of the US Senate letter, including signatures listed alphabetically

[x] Steve Rosenberg, “Anti-Semitism alarms Russian Jews,” BBC News, Moscow, as posted on http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4271783.stm

[xi] Elie Wiesel, “The America I Love,” Parade, July 4, 2004, pp. 4,5.

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