Russian Chief Rabbi Urges New Push Against Anti-Semitic Hate Speech

Following the dissemination of an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory by a politician from Russian President Vladimir Putin’s party, a chief rabbi of Russia called on the government to stamp out hate speech against Jews.

Rabbi Berel Lazar’s appeal Friday to Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev was in reaction to the April 10 statement on Jews by Vladislav Vikhorev, a candidate for Putin’s United Russia who is running to be elected a state lawmaker in the Legislative Assembly of Chelyabinsk Oblast, a federal region located nearly 1,000 miles away from Moscow.

During a debate in the city of Chelyabinsk, Vikhorev said that Jews in the 1990s were behind a “Jewish revolution that put Russian sovereignty itself on the brink of extinction,” which he said was “a well-planned, well designed program of destruction of national culture, national education, national production and the national financial system,” according to the news website Apostroph.

“The Russian Jewish community is shocked by an anti-Semitic escapade by a candidate in the United Russia primaries,” wrote Lazar in an open letter to Medvedev that was released Friday. He condemned the local election committee’s decision to merely warn Vikhorev, a 67-yerar-old pensioner, instead of scrapping his candidacy.

Russian Jews are “even more astounded” by the committee’s decision than by Vikhorev’s words, Lazar said.

Yuri Kanner, president of the Russain Jewish Congress, called for the initiation of a criminal investigation for hate speech against Vikhorev, the news website Lanta reported.

Lazar enjoys good relations with Putin, whom he credits with curbing anti-Semitic speech in media and in government, that Lazar says was more common before Putin came into power.

Russia has approximately 250,000 Jews. On Thursday, more than 2,000 of them convened in Moscow for the 10th annual Limmud FSU Jewish learning conference. This record-setting attendance made Limmud FSU Moscow the second largest Limmud conference in the world, second only to Britain’s gathering of 2,600 people.

Lazar spoke at the opening ceremony of Limmud Moscow Thursday, delivering the keynote address. He last attended that Limmud conference in 2007.

Author

Your Comments

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. All readers can browse the comments, and all Forward subscribers can add to the conversation. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not and will be deleted. Egregious commenters or repeat offenders will be banned from commenting. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Recommend this article

Russian Chief Rabbi Urges New Push Against Anti-Semitic Hate Speech

Thank you!

This article has been sent!

Close