Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Official Anti-Semitism Returning to Russia, Golts Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 28 – “One of the few positive qualities of the Russian government” until very recently was “the absence of anti-Semitism,” Aleksandr Golts says; but the Kremlin’s proclivity for conspiracy thinking and hostility to the West have finally led to the recrudescence of this ancient evil.

            In today’s Yezhednevny zhurnal, the Moscow commentator says that tragically in the discussion of the murder of the Imperial Family, “obscurantism is on the march” with the Russian Orthodox Church having assumed “the functions of the agitprop department of the CPSU Central Committee” turning to anti-Semitism (ej.ru/?a=note&id=31846).

            That role and that turn will only be ratified in the coming days when Vladimir Putin is scheduled to attend a meeting of the senior hierarchs of the church, Golts says, a meeting at which “before the presidential elections, the Orthodox ideologues must yet again bless the rule of the main boss of the country.

            Just how dangerous this coming together of church and state is, he continues, was reflected in a conference just held on the murder of the Imperial Family. The importance of that meeting was underscored by the fact that Patriarch Kirill despite his age presided over it for all nine hours.

            But the message of the meeting was delivered by Bishop Tikhon, who is sometimes referred to as Putin’s spiritual advisor, when he suggested that many believe and their beliefs need to be confirmed by investigation that the murder of Nicholas II and his family was a “ritual” murder of the kind Jews were accused of carrying out in medieval times.

            “We have the most serious relationship to the version of ritual murder,” Tikhon said. “More than that, a significant portion of the church commission [examining the deaths of the Imperial Family] has no doubts at all that this was the case,” although he added that this needed to be investigated and substantiated.

            Golts says that he had thought that after the notorious 1913 Beilis case in which the tsarist authorities unsuccessfully tried to convict a Jew of ritual murder of a Christian, “the question of ritual murders was closed for Russian society. But, no,” he continues, the new discussion shows that isn’t the case.

            Moreover, Russian government investigators say they plan to study the case in order to determine whether the last tsar and his family were the victims of “ritual murder.”  Marina Molodtsev, a senior investigator for the magistracy, said that she was organizing “psychological-historical” expertise on “the possible ritual character of the murder of the tsarist family.”

            “At first glance,” the Moscow commentator says, such an announcement looks to be “completely bestial. But on the other hand, today, a television prize is given to people who seriously assert that the earth is flat” and schools are teaching children that telegony is really true.

            And Putin “from time to time talks about the challenges of modernization,” even though he shows no inclination to pursue it.” And that leads to the conclusion that “in fact, there is no contradiction here. If society is consistently fed absolutely irrational explanations in the political sphere,” it shouldn’t surprise anyone that people will believe in the most absurd conspiracies.

            If Russians are encouraged to believe that their country is surrounded by “hostile forces,” then they won’t be able to avoid equally “fantastic treatments in other spheres, in particular in the area of Russian history.” And that is because in Putin’s Russia, “a fact is anything that corresponds to the interests of the country” as defined by the Kremlin.

            Having rejected efforts to define “some ‘national idea,’” Golts writes, the Kremlin has fallen back on the reliable Uvarov trinity: autocracy, Orthodoxy, and nationality. And it has handed over the embodiment of this idea to open obscurantists” in the church and in the government itself.

            During the Mathilda scandal in which the Orthodox fundamentalists demanded concessions to their outrageous point of view, the Russian government behaved in a relatively responsible way.  However, now it appears, the regime is ready to surrender to the obscurantism and seek evidence for something that never happened: the Jewish ritual murder of the tsar.

            In this environment, Golts says, “it is not to be excluded that in a short time, the investigation organs will seriously take up the question of the shape of the earth.”

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