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Date: Tue, 22 Oct 1996 17:53:46 CDT
Sender: Activists Mailing List <ACTIV-L@MIZZOU1.MISSOURI.EDU>
From: Elias Davidsson <>
Subject: Antisemitism in Eastern Europe

Antisemitism in Eastern Europe

By Elias Davidsson, 22 October 1996

In a book review distributed over this list (ANTI-SEMITISM AND THE TREATMENT OF THE HOLOCAUST IN POSTCOMMUNIST EASTERN EUROPE edited by Randolph L. Braham. New York, The Rosenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies (distributed by Columbia University Press), I found the following sentence:

A cynical explanation for this [the lack of overt antisemitism] is that governments are too much in need of aid from the United States and the IMF (to say nothing of the Hungarian-Jewish financier and philanthropist George Soros) to start slagging off Jews.

There may be some truth in this, but a deeper reason lies in the men and women who comprise the postcommunist governments. Most of these politicians belong to a brave and morally rooted generation, who fought against oppression in the name of freedom. Antisemitism appeals mainly to the fearful and the drifter; stronger characters resist its charms.

To dismiss this explanantion as merely 'cynical' is a in my opinion a bit too easy. It is undeniable that the switch to 'pro-Western' views and positions in all spheres of life has led to an almost automatic alignment with US positions. And for that reason many people who now run Eastern Europe are staunch pro-US people. This includes for the time being an acceptance and endorsement of the most vicious US foreign policies. I believe that racist attitudes play (as counter-distinct from traditional antisemitism) play a significant role in these attitudes, especially as the victims of the US policies are now Arabs, which for the ruling classes in Eastern Europe today it is OK to consider as sub-humans.

Those who have spoken intimately with people in Eastern Europe will notice that there is no wish to 'rock the boat' by criticize Israel, as the funds stem from Zionist America. The awareness that Jews control the flow of funds to Eastern Europe is widespread. Thus one finds sometimes strange expressions of philo-semitism in Eastern Europe, which are nothing but the revert coin of traditional antisemitism.

Soviet anti-Zionist propaganda was admittedly at times crude and verging on anti-semitism. But it was not so as a matter of principle. The anti-Zionist tenor of Soviet policies were based on opposition to racism, not endorsement of racism.

Thus, I happened to talk to the director of the Auschwitz museum when visiting the place about 4 years ago. I found a thoroughly racist person who runs a place supposedly maintained to warn coming generations from the scourge of racism. This person endorsed without shame Israeli apartheid legislation as a 'necessary measure' for the young state and said that Auschwitz should not be used for "political purposes", such as the global struggle against racism and racist ideology but stay a peaceful memorial for the dead. The connections between Zionism, antisemitism and racism are too profound to dismiss and reveal themselves in odd ways in Eastern Europe.

This "ruling elite" factor is also true of the Vatican. The Polish pontiff and his closest advisers combine doctrinal conservatism with unusually positive attitudes towards Jews. Many churchmen still wax impressively about "the enemies of Our Lord," but a chill wind from Rome greets such enthusiasts. The moral authority wielded by the Catholic Church in Eastern Europe has unquestionably helped to promote a growing atmosphere of tolerance.

It is perhaps true that for pragmatical reasons and for political reasons, the current Pope has taken a position regarded by many Jews as more progressive. But Jews should not be misled by appearances. The shifting position of the Vatican has little to with principles but with politics. While the Vatican has shifted to a more pro-Jewish position, it has kept silent while Arabs are killed en masse by Christian nations. The Arabs have now replaced the Jews as the main group whose plight is disregarded by the Church.

I think that Jews should not be misled by wrong signals of compassion by states and authorities. Real compassion does not make distinction between the identity of victims. Political compassion is another matter. Today the State of Israel is the darling of many statesmen, from India to Chile, from Finland to Togo. But if you will poke a bit, you'll find that the general perception (whether correct or not) among politicians is that Washington is calling the tune in international affairs and in the matters of credits, and as 'everybody knows', Washington is ruled by Jews...

I fear that most Jews are not aware of this growing perception and will one day find themselves in an awkward position.

The solution: Struggle for justice regardless of the identity of the victims, or in other terms: Combat US imperialism against the peoples of the world!

Elias Davidsson, ICELAND
(Born in Palestine 1941)

Elias Davidsson - Oldugata 50 - 101 Reykjavik - Iceland
Tel. (354)-552-6444
Fax: (354)-552-6579