Another Attempt to Control Historical Writing on the Role of Jews in the USSR

Apropos the recent series on chapters from Solzhenitsyn’s 200 Years Together (especially Chapter 18), a new textbook for university students in Russia emphasizes the elite status of Jews in the early decades of the USSR. (JTA, August 8, 2010:  “Russian Textbook Seen as Anti-Semitic“) The Foreword states, “For the greater part of its 70-year history, the USSR was ruled by people of non-Russian nationality.” The book also states that, “By the 1930s, the Jewish nation was the leader among those represented in the Communist party and the state machinery, in Science and Art.”

At this point, the elite status of Soviet Jews during this period is common knowledge among scholars (e.g., Yuri Slezkine’s The Jewish Century), but that doesn’t mean that scholars are free to draw attention to ethnicity in textbooks intended for university students. Predictably, any such effort is regarded as “anti-Semitic”: “some are calling [the book] anti-Semitic because it counts the number of Jews in Soviet governments.” As in the US, Jews are the elite that “cannot tell its name.”

Jewish activist organizations go ballistic over any mention that Jews are a disproportionate portion of American elites–truth is irrelevant. Those who stray into this forbidden territory soon learn that their lives have just gotten a lot more complicated. The result is that people behave like well-conditioned rats in a psychology experiment and keep their mouths shut no matter how obvious Jewish overrepresentation is. (“The New Elite Doesn’t Officially Exist

The theme of the textbook is that the Russians were ruled by non-Russians. Rule by outsiders had predictably disastrous results for those without power: it was during this period that the most horrific mass murders of Russians occurred. The common sense of it is that Russians would not have murdered huge numbers of their own people in the name of international socialism.  (It takes Puritans to do that.) This leads to an often-repeated theme on this website: It is the ultimate folly to allow non-Whites — especially non-Whites with powerful historic grudges — to become a majority and develop the power to rule over Whites.

Also predictably, the article uses guilt-by-association arguments. An author of the textbook was the advisor to a student who is now on trial for murdering two anti-fascists, and the university where the text is used is “tainted by anti-Semitism” because it invited a Holocaust dissident to speak.

Okay. But does that show that the USSR was not ruled by non-Russians during this period or that Jews  were not an elite during the worst excesses of the  Soviet regime? The same can be said about the comment from the Jewish apologist attacking the idea that deportation of the Crimean Tatars was caused by the necessity of clearing the territory for the proposed Jewish republic. Even if true, it doesn’t go to the heart of the matter. Here’s what Solzhenitsyn says in Chapter 18:

The settlement of the Jews in the Crimea provoked the hostility of the Tatars (“Are they giving Crimea to the Jews?”) and dissatisfaction of local landless peasants. Larin writes “evil and false rumors are circulating throughout the country about removal of land from non-Jews, the expulsion of non-Jews and the particularly strong support the authorities have given to the Jewish settlers”. It went so far that the chairman of the CIK of the Crimean ASSR, Veli Ibraimov published an interview in the Simferopol paper Red Crimea (Sept 26, 1926) which Larin does not quote from, but which he claims was a manifestation of “evil bourgeois chauvinism” and a call for a pogrom.

Solzhenitsyn seems to agree that the Jews were treated very well by the government (with the help of foreign Jewish organizations), and he amply documents the resentments this caused among non-Jews. But he does not state that the Tatars were expelled because of Jewish settlement.

Of course, for all I know, the textbook doesn’t say that either. The Tatars weren’t deported until 1944, long after the project for Jewish settlement had fizzled.

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