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Decades-long fight for Jewish freedom remembered
While Jews struggled to leave the Soviet Union for Israel and the West, American activists joined in the human rights battle.
December 30th, 2012
09:40 AM ET

Decades-long fight for Jewish freedom remembered

By Jessica Ravitz, CNN

If asked to name the monumental chapters in Jewish history over the past century, people are likely to name the Holocaust or the founding of the state of Israel.

Overlooked and largely unknown, especially among younger generations, is a tale that spanned decades and transcended politics, people and places.

It is the story of a campaign that began in the 1960s and demanded freedom of religion, speech and movement for Soviet Jews – and, by extension, others – who lived behind the Iron Curtain. A new group that wants the Soviet Jewry movement remembered says it belongs in history books, not just Jewish books, and can be a model for confronting human rights abuses that exist now.

Even from the early days, this was a movement that spoke to a broader audience.

In December 1966, Martin Luther King Jr. spoke about the struggle in big-picture terms when he addressed the American Jewish Conference on Soviet Jewry.

“The denial of human rights anywhere is a threat to the affirmation of human rights everywhere,” he said. “While Jews in Russia may not be physically murdered as they were in Nazi Germany, they are facing every day a kind of spiritual and cultural genocide.”

So what was it, exactly, that drove the desire of Soviet Jews to leave?

It began with the Soviet crackdown on religious freedoms with the 1917 Russian Revolution and Vladimir Lenin’s idea that barriers should be abolished and people unified under communism, says Gal Beckerman, author of “When They Come for Us, We’ll Be Gone: The Epic Struggle to Save Soviet Jewry.”

Defying the KGB: How a forgotten movement freed a people

Matters only got worse when Joseph Stalin came to power. Though religion was sneered upon, Yiddish theater and arts – expressed in communist terms – had been allowed to thrive for a long time. Stalin, though, put a stop to that. He would eventually order the execution of 13 Soviet Jews who’d been imprisoned in what became known as the “Night of the Murdered Poets.”

Stalin was paranoid about many things, including Jews. This was only compounded after the establishment of Israel in 1948, a development the Soviet Union initially supported. But when thousands showed up to hear Golda Meir, then an Israeli ambassador, speak in a Moscow synagogue in 1948, the Soviet leader was stunned - and threatened. By the time Stalin died in 1953, Beckerman says, he was reportedly planning large-scale deportations of Jews to Siberia.

The irony, Beckerman adds, is that Jews might have fully assimilated had Stalin not required every Soviet citizen to carry an internal passport. The passports listed nationality. And while most had descriptions such as Latvian or Ukrainian, Jews were listed as Jewish, and “this allowed Jews to stay Jews,” he says.

There’d been a “stripping away of what it meant to be a Jew," says Mark Levin, executive director of NCSJ, formerly the National Conference on Soviet Jewry. Under Soviet rule, “it didn’t take more than a couple generations to have organized religion under their thumb.”

Jewish schools and organizations disappeared. Though there were some “showcase synagogues,” Levin says, “even if you were allowed in, chances are you didn’t know what to do when you were in there.”

The establishment of Israel opened Soviet Jews’ eyes to the notion that there was a place they could call home. And in 1948, the United Nations issued its Universal Declaration of Human Rights, guaranteeing that people could return to the home of their nationality, which for Jewish people in the Soviet Union meant Israel.

Leon Uris' 1958 novel “Exodus,” about the establishment of Israel, was translated into Russian and became a bible of sorts for many Soviet Jews. The book became off-limits and was smuggled in by outsiders. Zionism was brewing, and the fledgling nation of Israel was eager to welcome more citizens, Beckerman says, adding that early efforts to stoke activism for the Soviet Jewry movement were born in the Jewish state.

And then came Israel's 1967 victory over its Arab neighbors. The Six-Day War “worked psychological magic” for Soviet Jews, the author says. They were emboldened, “walked with their backs straight for the first time,” and began to increasingly apply for visas to leave.

The problem was the Kremlin didn’t want a mass exodus out of the Soviet Union; such a development would leave cracks in the façade of a paradise leaders had worked hard to paint.

So, many who applied for visas were refused. These refuseniks, as they were called, became pariahs. They were shunned by neighbors, lost their jobs and apartments, faced interrogations and were even sent into exile to labor camps or prisons.

The Soviets also began to put them on public trial for charges such as treason.

Read personal stories of interrogation and imprisonment

In 1970, some Leningrad Jews who were desperate to leave – and had tried and failed to do so legally – plotted the hijacking of a plane. They were stopped and the Soviets, determined to make them an example, sentenced two of the plot organizers to death. This sparked an international outcry, and the sentences were commuted. But the pressure kept mounting as more Jews applied for exit visas, and more activists got involved abroad.

International diplomacy and legislation, not specifically tied to Jews, also began to work in the refuseniks’ favor. The Jackson-Vanik amendment, signed into law by President Gerald Ford in 1975, made American trade with the Soviets contingent on freedom of emigration.

“It was the first time that a country’s human rights record was linked to America’s trade relationship or American foreign policy,” says Beckerman. "And it was the first time in Congress a bill passed using human rights as leverage."

Also in 1975, the Helsinki Accords were signed between 35 countries. In exchange for the West acknowledging the Soviet Union’s post-war borders, the Soviets had to commit themselves to honoring the “Declaration of Principles,” which included human rights issues such as freedom of religion. Beckerman says the Soviet regime was so proud of this accord that it printed the language in the newspaper Pravda, which gave greater ammunition to civil rights activists, both in the Soviet Union and elsewhere.

In fact, some, including the most famous refusenik Natan Sharansky, would go on to found Moscow Helsinki Group to keep tabs on how such promises were - or weren't - upheld. Inspired by this, Americans then established Helsinki Watch, which later became the international NGO Human Rights Watch.

In the United States, individuals and organizations – bearing names such as the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry, the Union of Councils on Soviet Jewry, the National Conference for Soviet Jewry – kept applying pressure. Politicians grew increasingly invested in keeping human rights on the negotiation table.

Organizations such as NCSJ, the one Levin heads up now, compiled lists of refuseniks – the last book included about 15,000 names – which they presented to Secretary of State George Shultz, who served under President Ronald Reagan. Jews across the map, religiously and politically, came together for a common cause.

American activists put themselves at risk, arming themselves with contraband such as Hebrew lesson books and copies of “Exodus,” as they traveled to the Soviet Union to secretly meet with refuseniks. Sometimes, they found themselves interrogated by the KGB. And they adopted practices such as wearing silver bracelets inscribed with names of refuseniks, accessories the late-comedian Gilda Radner called “Soviet jewelry.”

On December 6, 1987, with Mikhail Gorbachev in office and reforms slowly taking hold, some 250,000 demonstrators flooded the National Mall in Washington. They arrived on the eve of the Soviet leader’s first visit to the White House.

Brandishing photographs of refuseniks and reciting chants such as, “Two, four, six, eight, open up the Iron Gate,” they rallied around the universal belief that people are entitled to basic freedoms – rights the Kremlin supported on paper but trampled on in practice. In attendance, too, were Soviet Jews who'd been lucky enough to secure exit visas, when so many others couldn't. Among them, with his parents, was a 14-year-old named Sergey Brin, who'd go on to co-found Google. He held a sign that read, “Let my people go.”

Within several years, the doors would fly open. The movement, which played a part in ending the Cold War and bringing down the Soviet Union, would eventually succeed in freeing more than 1.5 million Jews.

Chart showing number of exit visas given to Soviet Jews from 1967 to 2005
After 2005, emigration was all but assured. Numbers have remained in the low thousands, says Mark Levin of NCSJ.

Sharansky, the refusenik who'd become a poster boy for the struggle, conceived of this rally after his release from prison and the Soviet Union in 1986. He went on to be an Israeli politician, author and human rights activist.

“In the history of the Jewish people, the results of the campaign for Soviet Jewry were epochal, likened by many to the biblical exodus,” he wrote in The Wall Street Journal earlier this month. “As in ancient Egypt, the desire of Soviet Jews to claim their national identity joined with a driving thirst to be liberated from bondage. In this union of identity and freedom lies an enduring lesson for Jews everywhere, and by extension for other persecuted peoples as well.”

And that’s exactly why he and others think it’s time this chapter was remembered.

- CNN Writer/Producer

Filed under: Foreign policy • History • Immigration • Israel • Judaism • Persecution • Russia

soundoff (166 Responses)
  1. Jose Navas

    Communists never discriminate Jewish. Comunists want a society united, without barriers of religion as jewish pretended, they were so selfish that dont want to be united without barrier( thats a basic principle of Comunism) . Separation was created by Jewish !Please!. Beside Most of The Member Of Russia Communist Party Central Comitte were Jews. Even more Comunism was invented by Jews. Karl Marx was Jewish, Trovsky, Molotov Foreing Minister were jews too.

    December 30, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • Thinker23

      "Communists never discriminate Jewish."

      But of course! In 1949 all Jewish theaters in the Soviet Union were closed and the actors arrested, many of them exesuted. In 1952, Jewish doctors were falsely accused in a plot to kill Soviet leaders and arrested. Almost all Jewish doctors across the Soviet Union were fired. A campaign to transfer all Jews to the East Siberia started but Stalin's death in March 1953 put an end to it.

      Next time get a clue of what yohu're talking about, Jose...

      December 30, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • Gentile

      The Hebrew people are an ethnic race of humans, They have been kept a pure ethnicity because that is the way God wanted it and still does. God wanted them seperated form the Gentiles. They have been instrumental in ushering in Christianity. (Paul,Tireless starter of the early Church) All who are Not Hebrews practicing Judism are Gentiles. All. It doesnt mean one cannot convert though as stated in the Old Testament.

      December 30, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
  2. Jack33

    To make something clear here, for those who seem to have trouble understanding it; to be a Jew is not to be a race or ethnic group, but to be of a religion.
    Anyone can convert to Judaism, and for one to be born Jewish, simply means that your mother practiced Judaism; thus your mother could be a Chinese immigrant that converted to Judaism at some point in her life married a Welsh father, then had you; you are thus born Jewish.

    People who say "but look at Tay-Sachs" and such, to point to so-called Jewish ethnicity miss the point; such diseases exist because religious communities are often born of small populations/areas, and it takes a while to diversify. Christians also started as a small group from the middle-east too, and shared similar genetic diseases, but they became genetically diversified much quicker, because their religion became more popular much earlier. Make no mistake though; race is no more a rule in Judaism than it is in Christianity, and any race can adopt either religion.

    December 30, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
    • Thinker23

      Jack33: " ...for those who seem to have trouble understanding it; to be a Jew is not to be a race or ethnic group, but to be of a religion."

      As a matter of fact I have some troubles understanding it, Jack... Can you enlighten me by explaining if Karl Marx, the founder of Communism, was A JEW?

      December 30, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • sam kohen

      So was Jesus

      December 30, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • Анна Голицына

      Being a Jew is a mixture of religion AND ethnicity in whatever proportions, and also depends on whom you ask. If someone wishes to emigrate to Israel by themselves the requirement is that his mother must be Jewish and yes, the mother does not have to practice Judaism herself, but must be of a Jewish nationality, which again is defined by who her mother was. No remotely similar requirement exists in Christianity.

      December 30, 2012 at 11:08 pm |
  3. sam kohen

    Before, during and after World War II while Israel was under British rule, the British, influenced by the Arabs, placed on embargo prohibiting Jews trying to seek sanctuary there. Almost 90% of the Jews murdered by the Germans could have been otherwise saved had the British showed some compassion.

    When in 1989 the Soviet Union decided to remove their emigration restrictions the Arabs once again tried to encourage the USSR from allowing Jewish migration. The USSR unlike Great Britain told the Arabs to get lost.

    December 30, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
    • Tohrm

      What? You mean your god didn't protect you against the Nazis? Not looking too good from a credibility standpoint, is it?

      December 30, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • Gentile

      Sam,is there always someone to blame other than the Jewish people? If you lsited to God the way he told you too,,Look at the history of Jewish persecution in the Old Testament alone! Theres definately a pattern. A pattern of Not following God's word to the letter. Remember ,,they Are a Chosen People. God is most certainly involved deliberately in their lives.

      December 30, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
  4. Harvey

    "With the first link, the chain is forged. The first speech censured, the first thought forbidden, the first freedom denied, chains us all irrevocably." Those words were uttered by Judge Aaron Satie, as wisdom and warning. The first time any man's freedom is trodden on, we're all damaged."

    Jean-Luc Piccard

    While these words were spoken by a fictional character, they are quite true

    December 30, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
  5. BrightGeorge

    You're right, Jessica, this is a part of history that's being left behind. Thank you for putting it in perspective for the people who are too young to remember the refuseniks and the gulags. It's almost hard to believe how something that was such a large part of the political dialog in the 1970's has just disappeared off the radar.

    I realize this is a religion blog, not a history blog, but perhaps the next piece of history to brought back to light should be the 1980's issue of Apartheid in South Africa. It's surprising how many people are completely unaware that just a few decades ago something so brutal existed in a "Western" society. Just like Soviet Jewry, Apartheid also dominated the political discussion for quite a while but is now nearly completely forgotten.

    December 30, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
  6. fefeeley412

    I really thought this was an interesting piece and would love to read more about the Soviet Jews. Thank you so much for writing an enlightening article about their struggle. I find that the growing fury of anti-semitism, not only in Europe who should know better, but here in the United States, disturbing. Most people aren't this way. Yet you have a select few, calling Jews various names such as 'parasite' and spreading falsehoods about the state of Israel being an Apartheid state. You know, when someone sets out to be a useless racists, most people start with the Jews. Its like training wheels for the ignorant. When in doubt, when the world isn't going the way everyone wants it to, blame the Jews. What makes me laugh is the little ignorant know nothings are courageousness enough to post in the comments of this article, letting their true colours show. Nice. I find no difference between them and those who sit in their trailer wearing a wife beater talking about how everything wrong with the American nation is because of the N******. Jessica, very good article and I look forward to doing more reading on this topic

    December 30, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
    • Jessica Ravitz

      Thanks for the kind words. Please know this story was a sidebar to a much larger story, which you can read here: http://www.cnn.com/2012/12/30/world/soviet-jewry-protest-anniversary/index.html

      December 30, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • Tohrm

      It's always interesting to watch racists play the victim card. Jews are so good at it these days. Racists have no credibility any more. This is the 21st Century. Racist ancestors destroys your credibility. Now the Knesset is run like a Hitler Youth program and you all close your eyes to what is done, point by point exactly what the Nazis did in Austria and Germany before the Kristalnacht.
      When were you guys planning on wiping out the Palestinians? And have you already built the gas chambers to be run by the Chabad? They are the ones in the settlements. They throw feces at little girls! Time to clean house, ppl, or shut the hell up about how you are the victims all the time. A knee-jerk reaction to criticism shows your insecurity.
      It is not anti-semitic to point out the fascism of the Knesset or the racism prevalent throughout your culture and religion.
      Try joining the rest of the human race instead of building a Jewish Reich. You'll be glad you did.

      December 30, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • Gentile

      fefeely,,,The Jews have enemies just like the Christians do. The growing anti-Jewish problem here is not from the Belivers of The Way but from those who Do Not believe at all. Were in the same boat.

      December 30, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
  7. JayJ7

    “While Jews in Russia may not be physically murdered". My Grandmothers parents put her on a boat to Canada two weeks after her neighbors were killed while shopping. She had seen the soldiers coming and hid in the basement while they were slaughtered. She told me that the blood was pouring into the basement through the cracks in the wood floor. She was 13 and had to lie about her age to customs and they were kind enough not to question her.

    December 30, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
  8. Arthur Melkey

    From time to time I scroll down articles on the Internet.

    Invariably, I notice the sick minds of prejudice and hate.

    I happen to be Jewish.

    I am a good person, and have been a good friend to many , have worked long and hard, have participated in the community, and have been a good citizen of the USA.

    What I don' t understand is where all this hatred comes from ?

    December 30, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • Akira

      It comes from people who thrive on hatred and bigotry.
      It's rampant, it's wrong, and these types of people will inevitably die from their own bitterness.
      Please disregard them; they're generally ignorant people who don't know any better.

      December 30, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
    • Thinker23

      Usually racism of all kinds affects lazy uneducated losers looking for someone to blame for their failures. Jews always were a minority, always were different and always managed to succeed in every place they've lived. A combination of these factors makes the Jews a perfect target for racists.

      December 30, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
    • Dovid e

      amalek

      December 30, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
    • Tohrm

      I hate racism. Jewish culture is overflowing with it. Your god is a racist psycho. You act as obliviously as any white supremacist to the racism you spout while proclaiming yourselves victims.
      Get rid of your racism and stop playing the victim card.
      I hate it when bullies play the victim card almost as much as I hate racism. You do both.
      I am entirely justified in pointing out your racism while you have no case against me. I do not view you as a separate race.
      I view you as humans stuck in a misogynist, racist, xenophobic culture, arrogant bullies who love playing the victim card whenever your crimes are revealed.
      When you want to join the rest of us in trying to live together, we'll be here for you. Until then, you have no more credibility than a Nazi war criminal explaining how Aryan supremacy is an oppressed point of view.

      December 30, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • Gentile

      Arthur,,Its personal!! Since the Jewish people were chosen by God,,what better target for the Devil.? To see the Chosen of God suffer so much is a top priority of him. Remember Job? The Devil accused God of protecting him with a Hedge built around him(metaphore). What happened to him when God allowed the Devil to persecute him? The same for you people.Youve sufferd horribly but,,you know why too!!

      December 30, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
  9. Dave R

    The Jews always complain about their abuses. I'm no historian but what are they doing to Palestine? What ever Israel does is OK with North America. I find my questioning this now. They are repressing a people as was done to them, but it's OK now.

    December 30, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
    • Thinker23

      In Palestine the Jews are doing everything they can to live in peace with their neighbors. It's unfortunate but even the Jews do not have the magic powers to transform those willing to murder them into peaceful loving individuals without causing any harm to them. The fact is that the Jews offered peace and a sovereign independent state to Palestinian Arabs in 1948, 1967, 1978, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2009 and the Palestinians REJECTED each and every Israeli offer declaring that nothing short of destruction of the Jewish State would satisfy them.

      December 30, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
    • Gentile

      Dave,,What if YOU were a Jew?

      December 30, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
  10. @mike

    MIKE AND ALL OF YOU ON HERE ARE ORTHEDOX JEWS HIDING BECAUSE YOU DONT WANT ANYONE TO KNOW YOU ARE A JEW SHAMEFUL YOU ARE THE LOT OF YOU

    December 30, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • Akira

      Hiding behind an @username is the epitome of cowardice.
      Be honest if your bigotry, slimeball.

      December 30, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
  11. zlop

    Stalin was a Jew - Communism was administered by Jews
    After USSR fell, the communists moved into environmentalism

    December 30, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
    • Mohammad A Dar

      and what is wrong with "environmentalism"? at least it is for the good cause!!!

      December 30, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • Thinker23

      zlop - Stailn was a Georgian Christian. He was trained to become a priest but dropped of the seminary. Further, while many Jews supported the Communist revolution hoping for the end of discrimination they definitely did not "administer" it.

      Mohammad - and what is wrong with being a Jew?

      December 30, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • JayJ7

      "Joseph's mother, a devout Russian Orthodox Christian, wanted him to become a priest. In 1888, she managed to enroll him in church school in Gori. Joseph did well in school, and his efforts gained him a scholarship to Tiflis Theological Seminary in 1894."
      Quote from Stalin's biography, You racist pig

      December 30, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
    • Mohammad A Dar

      @Thinker23 – I re-read my post and I don't see any place I said anything about Jew! I am environmentalist myself, worked as a Environmental consultant to US EPA for fourteen years, don't jump on conclusion, like all Mohammads are antisemite when you see the names like "Mohammad", goon

      December 30, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
    • JayJ7

      One of the most disgusting things about this, is people this brainless convince themselves these fantasies are true to justify their hatred of anything outside their inbred tribe.......Jewish Navy Pilot

      December 30, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
    • Thinker23

      Mohammad - You're correct, you DID NOT say anything about Jew. You've asked what was wrong with being an enviromentalist but you DID NOT ask what was wrong with being a Jew, did you?

      December 30, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
    • Duzinkiewicz

      Why did my post not post?

      December 30, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
    • Akira

      Thinker...oh, my.
      Could it be that MAD didn't say anything like that because he doesn't think there IS anything wrong with being Jewish?
      I admire your posts, but why are you jumping down someone's throat for something they didn't say, when it's implied that he doesn't feel that way by the mere fact that he didn't say it?

      December 30, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
    • Thinker23

      Akira... You remind me an old Soviet Era joke about an elderly Jew running into another Jew house saying "The Kossaks are beating Jews and mailmen!!!" The other Jew (in amazement): "WHY THE MAILMEN???"

      To those who did not understand the sad humor of this joke, these Jews saw nothing unusual (or out of the norm in Russia) in Kossaks beating Jews.

      December 30, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • Mohammad A Dar

      Thinker23, sorry if I got little upset with you, I just wanted to defend "environmentalism" part in the post, if I answer your question now, nothing wrong with being a Jew, Christian, Hindu, Muslim, or atheist, people born in those families should be proud of their religions because it was given to them at birth........a very first birthday gift from your parent, if you call it a gift!!

      December 30, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
    • Thinker23

      Mohammad - I had absolutely nothing against you. I just wanted to show how persecution of Jews became a sort of acceptable "norm" in our society.

      December 30, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
  12. @mike

    THEY SAY WHAT YOU WISH FOR OTHERS YOU GET YOURSELF & WITH THAT I WISH YOU WELL.

    December 30, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
  13. Frederick1337

    Nice picture of the terrorist defense league there. I cannot believe that you are actually stating in this article that soviet jews helped free anyone. This article is very uneducated. Here you have an anti soviet article with pictures promoting soviet activity in the United States, that doesn't make sense. Not only is it a picture of soviet ideology in practice but a picture of a group that has been declared a terrorist group by the F.B.I. and who has helped to subvert black ideology to gangsterism after first promoting a hate crimes law agenda and helping to perpetuate the controlled low standard of living. I don't think any jew would want to be put in a category with people who make money offf of the death and murder of another race of people.

    December 30, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • JenkLucPicard

      LOL @ Jews pretending they were victims of Communism when they were in reality its creators!
      Jews created Christ insanity to control white people and used Christ insanity as a blueprint to invent the Communist political idealogy. More innocent human beings have been mass murdered by these two sick jewish idealogies than any other idealogy ever constructed by the mind of man. The Jewish NKVD Bolshevik Communist thugs are responsible for the Katyn forest massacre which they tried to blame on the Germans, the Holodomor starvation of 10 million Ukranians and the systematic mass slaughter of 60 million white Christian useful idiots in Russia. See? Since the Jews moved on from controlling white people with Christ insanity to Christ insanity 2.0 which is Communism they had no more need for the "useful idiots" that still practiced the outdated version of Communism which is Christ insanity and so they liquidated them.

      December 30, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
  14. socal1488

    a jew will remain a jew whether in oppressive host nations or in stolen homelands. they have no desire to assimilate. a jew is only loyal to another jew and even that loyalty is suspect. why would a jew live somewhere that it is not wanted?

    December 30, 2012 at 11:49 am |
    • Thinker23

      socal1488 - "why would a jew live somewhere that it is not wanted?"

      Great question! Why 1.4 million Arabs live in Israel, in your opinion?

      December 30, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • socal1488

      palestine is a long way from southern egypt, where the jew originates

      December 30, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
    • Thinker23

      socal - "...southern egypt, where the jew originates..."

      As they say in the movies "And with this I rest my case, Your Honor."

      December 30, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • socal1488

      palestine is not southern egypt

      December 30, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • VladT

      Your post seems very unbiased, so I think I shall now believe what you said about Jews.

      December 31, 2012 at 7:40 am |
  15. Mohammad A Dar

    I did a quick search on page and could not find mentioning of "Jonathan Pollard" on this blog, the person who played not just a significant role, but the most important role in fight for Jewish freedom, I wonder if Jessica Ravitz, the author of this blog, is an unqualified writer or she feared backslash from American bloggers and chickened out !!!

    December 30, 2012 at 11:36 am |
    • Sherpa Derp

      This is a puff piece, a whitewash. CNN puts these out to make Jews look good despite being as crazy as Muslims.
      Jews are not magical. They were never chosen by any super-being. They have a long way to go in terms of ridding themselves of racist xenophobia, thick-headed prejudices, and criminal behavior.
      Nobody cares about Soviet-era Jewish Supremacists' migration patterns. When they want to join the rest of the human race, let us know. Otherwise keep your whitewashed and slanted pieces off the internet, CNN. We don't need more of that crap, we need less.

      December 30, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • VladT

      How is it racist? Judaism is a religion, and to lesser extent, a culture, but it is not a race. If a Jew converts to Christianity, he is not now a Jewish Christian? He is simply a Christian. Let your anti-semitism grow as the mighty oak

      December 31, 2012 at 7:39 am |
  16. Lisa k

    But the story does not say what happened day to day. What it was like. The struggles to live. What horrors happened because they were jewish that forced people to leave. There is a story to be told for sure but... This is just bits and pieces of political crap.

    December 30, 2012 at 11:12 am |
    • Jessica Ravitz

      Thank you, Lisa, for asking this question. This story is actually a sidebar to the main story, which can be seen here: http://www.cnn.com/2012/12/30/world/soviet-jewry-protest-anniversary/index.html

      We have a link in this piece, but I'm going to see how we can make it more obvious.

      December 30, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • Yaakov S.

      GoldmanSachs sure has a long reach these days, don't they? Zucker is such a sucker.

      December 30, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • DeadIIIRed

      You do know that antisemitism was a crime in the Soviet Union? They faced the same horrors everyone else there did.

      December 30, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
  17. More Media Lies

    Almost the entire NKVD who committed the Ukranian genocide were Jewish. As were most of the founders of the Communist Party. In other words, Communism is Jewish. Don't take my word for it? Do a little investigating on your own. You'll be surprised what you can learn. Now the Communists who run the US Congress want to disarm you. Do you think that will end good for you?

    December 30, 2012 at 11:11 am |
    • Thinker23

      You will be surprised even more if you'll discover that only about 2% of Soviet citizens were Jews. On the other hand, n 1986, for example, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union had over 19 million members or approximately 10% of the USSR's adult population.

      As always racism goes together with lies...

      December 30, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
    • Proof

      The whole story.
      http://rense.com/general43/jewishrole.htm

      December 30, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
  18. altkoa

    Watched professor Richard Wolff a leftist. Complaining that Marxism is not taught enough. Why do so many American Jews embrace Communism.?

    December 30, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • Thinker23

      altkoa - "Why do so many American Jews embrace Communism.?"

      Interesting question... Do you have any comparative statistics linking supporters of Communism in the US with their ethnicity?

      December 30, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
  19. Shoite Detector

    Those nikulturny schnorrniks!
    They think Hashem is in how they wipe their asses and whether their headstraps are tight enough!
    Whoever came up with the idea of having psychotic parasites spend their whole lives in shul should have been swept up in the Shoah. They can barely tie their shoes! Nothing but no-good-niks! They are worse than Muslims!
    Who will teach their children? They hate education! Child abuse is the least of their crimes!

    December 30, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • aliza

      I believe you have been influenced wrongly.

      December 30, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • Yaakov S.

      I believe you have been smoking something kosher.

      December 30, 2012 at 11:22 am |
  20. MennoKnight

    God Bless Israel.
    And Please stop building illegal settlements.

    December 30, 2012 at 10:18 am |
    • Thinker23

      I can assure you that each settlement approved by the Government of Israel is perfectly legal.

      December 30, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
    • S Kopfter

      "I will make it 'legal'" – Darth Sidious

      December 31, 2012 at 2:44 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.