Tass Assails U.S., Israel on Rights Issue
The Soviet news agency Tass mounted a virulent attack Monday on the human rights records of the United States and Israel under headlines that declared, “USA: Raging Anti-Semitism” and “Zionism Is Racism.”
Tass appeared to be reacting to Sunday’s demonstration in Washington in support of refuseniks here--citizens who have been refused permission to emigrate. A similar but much smaller demonstration here the same day was forcibly broken up by police. An attempt Monday by about a dozen activists to stage another protest in central Moscow was also prevented by the authorities.
The Tass outburst appeared as Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev was on his way to Washington. It was believed to be designed to blunt President Reagan’s criticism of the Soviet Union’s performance in the field of human rights.
Contrast in Tone
The strident anti-American tone of the articles, some of which were repeated in Tass’ foreign-language service, was in sharp contrast to recent praise of the United States for the arms control accord that is to be signed today in Washington.
Tass, a government-controlled news agency, sends news and commentary to hundreds of clients in countries around the world in English and other languages. Its material invariably reflects government thinking.
The sudden harsh charges that the United States is anti-Semitic and that Israel has used “barbarous methods” against Arabs seemed for two reasons to have been carefully orchestrated.
"(The Soviets) are obviously very upset about these Jewish demonstrations in Moscow and Washington on the eve of the summit,” one analyst here said, “and this is their way of putting things right, or getting even, however you look at it.”
Another said: “It is also pre-emptive propaganda, to show that the Soviet Union is not the only country that can be faulted on the human rights issue when it comes up at the summit.”
A Tass correspondent reporting from Washington called Sunday’s demonstration by 200,000 protesters “a bid to poison the atmosphere of the upcoming negotiations by U.S. Zionist organizations.”
He said “the aim of the Sunday action is to try to smear, in the eyes of Americans, the Soviet Union and its government, to try to stop the positive changes in the attitude of U.S. public opinion to the U.S.S.R. which are taking place now and which are expected to increase. No wonder that the Zionist gathering got the blessing of the White House.”
He went on to say that the participants “preferred to forget that it was Soviet soldiers who in World War II prevented realization of the Hitler-planned “final solution of the Jewish question.”
He said the demonstrators “preferred to keep silent over the fact that the Zionist state of Israel trampled down the rights of the Arab people of Palestine and assisted to the last day the bloody (government of the late President Anastasio Somoza) in Nicaragua and that it has been helping the apartheid regime of the Republic of South Africa.”
A Tass commentator in Moscow, discussing anti-Semitism in the United States, wrote: “The activity of such right-wing extremist organizations as the Ku Klux Klan, the Nazi Party, the Christian Defense League, the Aryan Nation, the Party of White Patriots, etc., is growing from month to month.
“They are brought together by ideological intolerance, racism, rabid anti-communism. Over the period of the Reagan Administration, the Ku Klux Klan membership increased several fold, now amounting to more than 50,000, and the number of its sympathizers is over 100.000.
“Anti-Semitism is steadily on the rise. About 80% of American Jews polled have stated that they personally encountered manifestations of anti-Semitism. Over 40% stated they had heard anti-Semitic pronouncements at the place of work or residence. Twenty-six witnessed desecration of synagogues.
U.S. Journal Cited
“According to (the weekly magazine) U.S. News & World Report, there were over 900 cases of vandalism and threats against representatives of the Jewish community in the United States in 1986.”
Another of the Tass articles, citing what it called the Israeli government’s use of “barbarous methods of violence and lawlessness against Arabs,” said that these could be “compared with methods of Gestapo butchers,” a reference to the secret police of Nazi Germany.
Another charged that the Israeli attitude toward Palestinian Arabs is racist and added that “it is not accidental that South African racists are among the closest friends of Israeli Zionists.”
Another theme that has suddenly surfaced in the press here is that the United States, “the champions of human rights,” has ignored human rights violations by their allies and has drawn attention to them only “in socialist and developing countries.”
Tass called attention to the World Zionist Congress taking place in Jerusalem and commented: “More and more people in Israel become doubtful and disappointed with every passing day. The evidence of that is specifically the official recognition of the fact that more Jews now leave Israel than go there for permanent residence. The admission is all the more noteworthy as it was made at the World Zionist Congress.”
Tass suggested that the reason for this is that the “promised land” now “implies very strict censorship, violation of elementary human rights, victimization for religious beliefs, repressions against dissenters.”
Finally, Tass reported that the Western journalists who covered Sunday’s official “peace demonstration” in Moscow, which developed into a shoving contest between police and Jewish refuseniks, had got it all wrong.
“It seems today’s reports were compiled by blind or deaf people,” the news agency said. “They did not see anti-war posters, or hear ardent speeches by Soviet people calling for the Washington meeting to become the first step toward a nuclear-free world. But on the other hand, these journalists clearly saw a wretched handful of renegades who shouted, ‘I want to leave.’ ”