Staunton, December 11 – At a time when the latest anti-Semitic scandal has broken out in the Russian capital over Pelevin’s attacks on Jews on a prize panel, Moscow commentator German Pyatov reminds that “the Soviet Union was ruined by state anti-Semitism” because official anti-Semitism cost it “tens of billions” it could otherwise have earned.
He begins by citing the words of Yakov Etinger about the rising tide of anti-Semitism at the end of Stalin’s reign concerning “the awkwardness” Russians still feel about that but must because of its relevance for the present and the future (mk.ru/social/2020/12/11/sovetskiy-soyuz-byl-pogublen-izza-gosudarstvennogo-antisemitizma.html).
But tragically, Pyatov says, the Soviet government’s anti-Semitism did not end with the death of Stalin; and that vicious attitude not only led many Soviet Jews to demand the right to emigrate but cost the USSR billions in earnings and aid that might otherwise have improved the lives of Soviet people and kept the USSR from collapse.
Stalin knew exactly what he was doing: he used the Jews during World War II to attract Western aid that helped the USSR win the war. But when the war was over, Stalin turned on the Jews, closing the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee and adopting ever more anti-Semitic policies that threatened to turn into a holocaust in the USSR.
Only the dictator’s death in March 1953 prevented that, Pyatov continues. His immediate successaors recognized “what harm the anti-Semitic campaign was inflicting on the image of the country” and ended it. “But state anti-Semitism in the USSR did not disappear.” Instead, it was replaced by unwritten rules of discrimination against Jews.
Those who were listed as Jewish in their Soviet passports could not attend the best universities and could not advance in the most important government institutions. That led to demands by Jews in the USSR and people in the West that the Jews in the USSR be allowed to leave; and in a remarkable development, between 1969 and 1975, “about 100,000” were allowed to.
During that period which coincided with détente, the West invested in Russia and more important did not block Moscow’s efforts to earn more abroad. But in the mid-1970s, Moscow slammed the door shut, leading to the rise of the so-called “refuseniks” who were seeking emigration but denied the opportunity to do so. That cost the USSR heavily.
At the same time, the communist leadership pursued anti-Israeli policies in the Middle East, arming Israel’s opponents including terrorist groups and helping them attack the Jewish state., the Moscow commentator recalls.
“All these anti-Semitic games of the communist leaders cost the country tens of billions of dollars which never came back to the Soviet Union. For ordinary Soviet people, this meant their further descent into poverty, a total deficit of food and industrial goods, and an undeviating decline in their standard of living.”
How all this ended, Pyatov concludes, everyone knows. “The USSR fell apart like a rotten tree. Of the three million Jews on the territory of the former USSR remained only about 300,000” because “outstanding and talented teachers, doctors, scholars, engineers, programmers, mathematicians, and physicists left that anti-Semitic country.”