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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

MEDIA WATCH: Jew-Bashing Isn't Hot News




Russia's most influential TV journalist, NTV president Yevgeny Kiselyov, gave an unusual interview to Interfax Wednesday, slamming the Communist Party for anti-Semitism and for what he called its hatred of people in general.


"Voting in the State Duma, where the Communists were practically unanimous in refusing to condemn the anti-Semitic, misanthropic remarks of General [Albert] Makashov, showed this party's true face," Kiselyov told Interfax. "This is the end of the myth of the Communist Party's internationalism."


Kiselyov's hatred of communists is common knowledge, and it does not prevent Communist chief Gennady Zyuganov from appearing quite often on Kiselyov's current affairs show "Itogi" - who is Zyuganov to refuse free publicity? But his harsh statement to Interfax might seem a bit much: After all, one expects a journalist at least to put on a show of impartiality.


Yet I cannot say I disapprove of Kiselyov's harsh words. You cannot go far enough in criticizing the Communists after their refusal to seriously censure Makashov, a member of the Communist faction in the Duma, for claiming in two public speeches last month that zhidy, a slur for Jews,were responsible for Russia's economic problems and so should be rounded up and jailed.


Communist leaders have refused to criticize Makashov for more than "hotheadedness." Zyuganov has mumbled something about the need for a "public dialogue" on the problems he thinks Russians and Jews have with each other. He has also expressed the view that there were too many people with non-Russian names in previous governments.


Anti-Semitism is a crime under Russian law. The Communists' lenience toward Makashov makes them accomplices to the crime. And it's absolutely right that a journalist should get excited and say the things Kiselyov said. Readers, who are also voters, should be provided with the information that a certain group of politicians consists entirely of anti-Semites. They should also be made aware these politicians are dangerous.


The problem is, in Moscow only Jews, or people whose employers are Jews, worry about things like Makashov's "yid" remarks. Kiselyov, of course, is employed by Media-MOST, a company owned by Vladimir Gusinsky, a prominent Jewish activist and a co-owner of Israel's Maariv media group.


NTV has been raising hell about anti-Semitism in Russia for some time, but it found little support in other media.


ORT television news anchor Sergei Dorenko once let loose a stinging tirade against anti-Semites when his boss, Boris Berezovsky, turned out to have dual Russian-Israeli citizenship and his critics objected to his appointment as deputy secretary of Russia's Security Council.


"Consider me a Jew," Dorenko suggested, pugnaciously offering to take on anyone who had a problem with Jews.


ORT's director general, Igor Shabdurasulov, lashed out at the Communists' anti-Semitism Thursday, but Berezovsky's newspapers, Nezavisimaya Gazeta and Noviye Izvestia, have not had much to say on the Makashov matter this week.


Berezovsky is not Jewish in the strict sense of the word - he is an Orthodox Christian. It looks like he just does not want to stress his Jewish origins as much as Gusinsky does it. Or maybe Berezovsky thinks the less one talks about anti-Semitism, the less hostile attention is drawn to Jews.


The general reaction of the Russian press to the Duma debate on Makashov and the Communists' obvious official anti-Semitism has been mild. The stories published in national newspapers Thursday, the day after the debate, were small, and no one saw fit to offer any analysis of the obvious discrepancy between the Communists' declared "internationalism" and their hatred of a particular religious and ethnic group.


Only the daily Kosmomolskaya Pravda used the word "disgrace" when speaking of the day's events at the Duma, which included Vladimir Zhirinovsky stating that the Jews are "very strong, talented and wealthy and they can compensate for the moral damage they incurred [from Makashov's remarks] by taking a nice vacation."


Of course, the daily Segodnya also described the debate as an "ungainly sight." It is owned by Gusinsky and edited by Mikhail Berger, who is Jewish.


I am Jewish, too, and I guess it would be obvious to the Communists why I am making a fuss about their Jew-hatred. It may also explain my inability to understand why reporters with no Jewish roots and no Jewish publishers do not make much of a fuss. Forlornly, I still think anti-Semitism should be equally ugly to everyone, regardless of ethnicity.