Australia/Israel Review

Scribblings: How the Soviets promoted openly antisemitic anti-Zionism 

Feb 5, 2020 | Tzvi Fleischer

"Caution: Zionism!": A seminal and widespread Soviet propaganda work
"Caution: Zionism!": A seminal and widespread Soviet propaganda work


In this column in January 2017, I discussed some research done on archived KGB documents by noted Israeli investigative journalist and author Ronen Bergman. Basically, Bergman showed that during the Cold War, Soviet efforts to support the Arab war on Israel and spread extreme propaganda demonising Israel and Zionism were not simply cynical efforts to gain Arab support and damage the interests of US allies.

The documents suggest KGB leaders were sincere believers in the worst sort of antisemitic conspiracy theories, including believing in the authenticity of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, openly speaking of the “global Jewish conspiracy”, and insisting Zionists were secretly behind anything negative affecting Soviet interests, such as the increase in US-USSR tensions following the election of Ronald Reagan as US President in 1980. 

As I also noted, Soviet propaganda lies behind many of the extreme claims about Israel and Zionism found on the international left today – Zionism as a uniquely evil form of imperialism and colonialism; claims that Zionists both collaborated with the Nazis and exhibit behaviour similar to Nazism; beliefs that Zionists and the “Jewish Lobby” control Washington and other capitals, the media, and international finance, etc. 

Now the American blogger “Elder of Ziyon” (a tongue-in-cheek nom de guerre) has uncovered some new details about how these Soviet-promoted racist beliefs were disseminated. He notes a recent column in a Jordanian newspaper by anti-Zionist writer Marwan Soudah in which Soudah recalls the importance in Arab intellectual circles in 1970, of a “book written by the martyr of thought and the word, Yuri Ivanov, entitled ‘Beware of Zionism!’. …. I remember that these books were distributed in Amman for free and on a large scale to the pioneers of the Soviet Cultural Centre…”

The Ivanov book in question, called in English Caution: Zionism!, was one of the most seminal and widely distributed works of official Soviet anti-Israel propaganda.

And as Elder of Ziyon demonstrates through extensive quotes, it went beyond spreading the usual claims about Zionism being “a tool and agent of imperialism”; a form of colonialism and racism deploying “fascist methods” which is also able to censor the international media, and engaging in endless atrocities including “widespread” use of “paid hirelings to organise the ‘elimination’ of people refusing to serve the Zionist interests.”

The book is also very openly antisemitic, blaming the Jews as a whole for the supposed crimes of Zionism because Judaism is an “arch-reactionary” and “racist” faith, as in this quote:

“What lies behind this protracted and deliberately confused uproar? Is it but another example of the open racism of the Zionists…?… Partly yes, but the heart of the matter lies elsewhere. The arch-reactionary nature of the Jewish faith has long been no secret – one has only to open the Bible for one’s eyes to fall on numerous racist sentences. Even less of a secret is the racism of the Zionist leaders, for after all that was what they started from.” 

In other words, contemporary left-wing anti-Zionism is not only tainted with antisemitism because rejecting self-determination for the Jewish people, alone of all the world’s national groups, is inherently discriminatory. It has also been enmeshed with unequivocally antisemitic beliefs about Jews from its very origins, such as the widely disseminated Soviet propaganda of the sort illustrated by Ivanov’s screed. 


A Smoking Gun

There are still people insisting there is no firm evidence Iran has been trying to make nuclear weapons. They say Iran denies it is doing this, and the International Atomic Energy Agency has never said unequivocally that Iran was seeking nuclear weapons (no, but IAEA inspectors have reported mountains of evidence of Iranian actions that can only be explained by the pursuit of nuclear weapons). They cite US intelligence reports from a few years ago saying Iran had not yet made a decision to build nuclear weapons (Iran was pursuing all the components of a nuclear bomb – what it had not yet decided was the exact timeline to turn those components and capabilities into a deployable weapon).

In truth, there are lots of “smoking guns” proving Iran has been illegally trying to develop nuclear weapons – but one has just been published that should convince anyone who is not absolutely determined to deny any and all evidence of Iran’s nuclear intentions. (And there are people out there who would continue their denials even if Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei came into their living room and physically showed them a nuclear device.)

A document from the Iranian nuclear archive captured by Israel in 2018 was recently shown to a fact-finding mission to Israel led by Canada’s former foreign minister John Baird. While Baird’s mission has not yet published its report, it released the document to Britain’s Daily Mail (Jan. 18).

It is, quite simply, a request, dated Nov. 28, 2002, from a senior Iranian nuclear scientist to the head of Iran’s nuclear project, asking for detailed parameters for designing a nuclear warhead to be placed on a missile. 

There is no ambiguity in the brief document – signed by Muhammed Nasiri, head of the Integration project of the AMAD program, Iran’s secret nuclear research program, and addressed to Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the head of AMAD. It talks openly about warheads and it talks about missile trajectories. It does not say “nuclear warhead”, but AMAD did nuclear research, not missile design. The document proves unequivocally that Iran was trying to design nuclear warheads to fit on its missiles.

So can we now please finally drop the ridiculous pretence some people insist on that there is no proof Iran has been seeking nuclear weapons? 


Israeli PM Netanyahu with Gilad Shalit following the lop-sided 2011 prisoner swap deal that led to his freedom (Image: Isranet)

Essay: Redeeming the hostages

Apr 26, 2024 | Australia/Israel Review
The anti-Israel schadenfreude which followed the Iranian attack on Israel represents a disturbing side of human nature (Image: X/Twitter)

The Last Word: The iniquity of schadenfreude

Apr 26, 2024 | Australia/Israel Review
Yayha Sinwar: The “Butcher of Khan Yunis” who became the mastermind of October 7 (Image: Shutterstock)

Demented or just diabolical

Apr 26, 2024 | Australia/Israel Review
A meeting between Israeli leaders and officials and their US counterparts to discuss Gaza (Image: Flickr)

Rafah: Squaring the circle

Apr 26, 2024 | Australia/Israel Review
Image: Shutterstock

Biblio File: Navigating the diplomatic labyrinth

Apr 26, 2024 | Australia/Israel Review
NZ Foreign Minister Winston Peters at the UN (Screenshot)

AIR New Zealand: Grading NZ’s new government 

Apr 26, 2024 | Australia/Israel Review