Selling Anti-Semitism in Moscow

Caution, Zionism!: Essays on the Ideology, Organization and Practice of Zionism

by Yuri Ivanov
Publishing House for Political Literature, Moscow

Translator’s Introduction

Mikhail Agursky is a cybernetics engineer who lives in Moscow. Aged about forty, he is the son of a Belorussian Jewish communist who originally named him Melik—short in Russian for Marx-Engels-Lenin-International Communism. Agursky has published works on cybernetics and also, more recently, in The Times Literary Supplement (June 30), a long article reviewing the Soviet Belorussian Encyclopedia.

As for Yuri Ivanov, the author of the book Agursky reviews below, there was doubt for some time about his real identity. But then the Moscow Chronicle of Current Events reported that he “is a real person of about forty” who “knows English well, but no other foreign languages,” and “works in the Central Committee of the Party. He was formerly employed in the African department, but then he received an official reprimand for drunkenness and…was transferred to the foreign travel department, where the staff consists exclusively of KGB officials. At present Yuri Ivanov is the only expert on Israel working in the Central Committee.”

The English-language edition of Ivanov’s Caution, Zionism! (Progress Publishers, Moscow), which, incidentally, tones down some of the most offensively anti-Semitic passages in the original, describes him as a “Soviet Marxist historian.” More recently he has revealed many of the pseudonyms which he did in fact use earlier by publishing a collection of his articles in Russian called Whom Do They Serve? And more recently still, reports have circulated in Moscow of closed party meetings being told that he has been thrown from a train and killed.

Agursky’s essay on this book is the first of its kind to be published. It should be noted, however, that a much longer work by Vitold Kapshitser, The Trojan Horse of Fascism, which analyzes in detail the similarity between anti-Semitic writers of the late tsarist period and of today, has reached the West and, one hopes, will soon be published. Mr. Kapshitser recently emigrated from the USSR and has been living in Rome.

Peter Reddaway
Moscow

This book, whose author aspires to the role of the chief Soviet expert on Zionism, has recently been translated, inside the USSR, into several European languages, including English. The Russian edition of Caution, Zionism! was a best seller of its kind, and vanished from the bookshops almost as soon as it appeared.

The book is a remarkable social document, being the first attempt of the entire Soviet period to justify publicly the need for an all-out struggle against the Jews, whom the author views as the country’s chief internal threat. The book abounds in ideological argumentation and references to classical Marxism-Leninism; but this is mere decoration which the author uses as a means of influencing those who would not otherwise accept his argument.

Caution, Zionism! is couched in an intricate, Aesopian language of allusion and semi-allusion, of which the greater part can be understood only by specialists. Furthermore, this language makes frequent use of a symbolism fully intelligible only to those who share Ivanov’s attitudes. For example …

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Letters

Soviet Anti-Semitism November 29, 1973