As anti-Semitism masked as anti-Zionism once again rears its ugly head, it’s important not only to realize they are one and the same, but to hear it from those who have experienced it firsthand. Writing for The Forward, Izabella Tabarovsky tells of living through the state-sponsored anti-Jewish hatred propogated in the Soviet Union where she grew up:
It’s 1988. My Dad and my teenage self are in our tiny Zhiguli car, stuck at a railway crossing in my Siberian home town of Novosibirsk. The road is narrow, the pavement is full of potholes. As the traffic begins to move, our car stalls in front of a massive Kamaz truck coming in the opposite direction.
The driver is angry; he may also be drunk. He is raining anti-Semitic curses down on us, all the while pumping the gas pedal as if getting ready to run us over.
I look over at my Dad, who is desperately working the gearbox. He is silent but his face is white.
It’s the first time in my life that I see my brave, strong Dad terrified. And that scares me more than the truck, whose massive wheels, now bare inches from our car, could squash us like a bug…
The Soviet Union went down in history as a country of state-sponsored anti-Semitism. But I often think that it would be more accurate to call it a country of state-sponsored anti-Zionism.
The Soviet anti-Zionist campaign I personally experienced began in 1967 and lasted essentially through the end of the empire. In that time, hundreds of books and thousands of articles were published painting Zionism as a racist ideology. Anti-Zionist caricatures using classic anti-Semitic imagery peppered the pages of Soviet newspapers. They equated Zionism with Nazism, fascism, American imperialism, German militarism, and apartheid. They compared Zionism to the Ku Klux Klan. The “Zionist” of those cartoons was easily recognizable as a stereotypical Jew of the Nazi propaganda.
But the Soviet anti-Zionism began much earlier than that…