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Glasnost, Perestroika and Antisemitism

Courtesy Reuters

Antisemitism in the Soviet Union is more visible and blatant today than at any time in the past forty years. It draws on both traditional Russian sources as well as sentiments evoked by the current radical changes in Soviet society. The glasnost, or openness, unleashed by President Mikhail Gorbachev has permitted suppressed antisemitic instincts to appear on the public agenda, and perestroika, or economic restructuring, has opened entrepreneurial opportunities that many Soviet citizens view with distrust and identify with Jews. Moreover perestroika has made possible the mobilization of ethnicity by encouraging the formation of grass-roots organizations, many of which are ethnically based. While such organizations in the Baltics, the Ukraine and Moldavia have explicitly condemned antisemitism, a few groups, especially in the Russian republic, have adopted harshly antisemitic platforms.

There are 1.45 million Jews in the Soviet Union. They enjoy more cultural and religious freedom than at any time since 1948, but

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