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How anti-Semitism serves the Kremlin

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It is a legacy of the latter half of the Brezhnev era and the tenure of Yuri Andropov as head of the KGB that Soviet anti-Semitism is worse than at any time since the closing years of the Stalin period. Evidence abounds in at least three areas.

First, Soviet media, thoroughly censored by an agency responsible to the Council of Ministers and the KGB, are suffused with anti-Semitic content. So frequently does such material appear - in hundreds of books and articles, in children's literature, in television programs, in publications for such diverse groups as the Academy of Sciences and the railway workers' union - that an anti-Semitic media campaign can be said to exist.

A second aspect of Soviet anti-Semitism that has intensified in a systematic manner during the last 10 years is anti-Jewish discrimination in university admissions. So precipitous has been the decline in Jewish enrollment that it cannot be attributed to emigration, the aging of the Soviet Jewish population, or any other ''natural'' factor. Published Soviet statistics show a greater than 40 percent decline in the number of Jewish university students from 1969 to 1976 .

A third component of contemporary Soviet anti-Semitism is ongoing and intensified repression of those forces that have sustained Jewish identity over the centuries - the Jewish religion, the Hebrew language, and Jewish culture.

It is true that restrictions are placed on the observance of all religions in the Soviet Union, but those applied to Soviet Jews are especially severe. Alone among the recognized religious groups in the USSR, Soviet Jews have no functioning seminary for the training of clergy, no publications, no national organization, and no regular ties with coreligionists abroad.


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