Tuesday, April 05, 2005

New Anti-Semitic Petition in Russia

The Jerusalem Post reports Mass call to outlaw Jewish groups

Over 5,000 known public activists and members of the clergy in Russia have sent a petition to the state prosecutor's office in which they demand to outlaw Jewish groups.

In the petition, the signatories use quotes from Kitzur Shulhan Aruch, which they argue prove their claim that Judaism is a fanatic and racist religion that hates gentiles.

Among those who signed the letter, according to Army Radio, are ex-generals, artists and the former world champion in chess.

Israel's Ambassador to Russia, Arkadi Milman, called the new affair severe and said that Israel will contact Russian authorities in an attempt to prosecute those responsible for the petition.

The recent anti-Semitic petition comes two months after about 20 members of the lower Russian parliament house, the State Duma, asked Prosecutor- General Vladimir Ustinov to investigate their claims that Jews are fomenting ethnic hatred and provoking anti-Semitism.

Arguing that Jews were to blame for anti-Semitism, the authors of the letter demanded that Jewish groups be outlawed, based on legislation against extremism and fomenting ethnic discord.

However, in a 306-58 vote that hewed to party lines, the State Duma adopted a declaration saying that the 'clear anti-Semitic intent' of the letter and other appeals for government actions targeting Jews 'prompts indignation and sharp condemnation.'

The stunning calls to ban all Jewish groups comes amid concerns of persistent anti-Semitism that continues to plague Russia.

Jewish leaders have praised President Vladimir Putin's government for encouraging religious tolerance, but rights groups accuse the authorities of failing to adequately prosecute the perpetrators of anti-Semitic and racial violence.

Russia's chief rabbi, Berel Lazar, said the lawmakers were either insane or 'quite sane but limitlessly cynical' and were hoping to win support 'by playing the anti-Semitic card.'

With Putin planning to join events this week commemorating the liberation of Auschwitz by Soviet troops, Russia's Holocaust Foundation head Alla Gerber said it was 'horrible that as we're marking the 60th anniversary of this tragic and great day... we can speak of the danger of fascism in the countries that defeated fascism.'

She said that while the Russian state itself is no longer anti-Semitic, there are 'anti-Semitic campaigns that are led by all sorts of organizations.'

'The economic situation is ripe for this, an enemy is needed, and the enemy is well-known, traditional,' Gerber said.

Echoing anti-Semitic tracts of the Czarist era, the letter's authors accuse Jews of working against the interests of the countries where they live and of monopolizing power worldwide. They say the United States 'has become an instrument for achieving the global aims of Judaism.'

'It is possible to say that the entire democratic world today is under the monetary and political control of international Judaism, which high-profile bankers are openly proud of,' the letter says.

Along with outlawing Jewish organizations, the lawmakers called for the prosecution of 'individuals responsible for providing these groups with state and municipal property, privileges and state financing.'

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