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Pravda Geing Real?
A Newspaper that Sought for Decades to Destroy Judaism, Now Urges the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s Vision as A Model for Russian Society
By Berl Haskelevich

Who has not heard of Pravda, the mighty Party newspaper, the official propaganda mouthpiece of the forever ruling Communist Party of the Soviet Union. The old saying was, ‘there’s not a word of pravda (truth) in Pravda’, but the paper used to sell tens of millions of copies daily for many reasons:

(a) People needed paper to wrap the butter or cheese bought at the milk store, or meat at another store.

(b) There was nothing else to read, so other papers copied the carefully tailored news from Pravda.

(c) Pravda was the official source of information about government decrees: all the new ordinances were carefully outlined in Pravda.

(d) those readers who were brilliant enough to read “between the lines” could, through careful analysis, get a glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes, what changes can be expected in the official thinking. A sentence in Pravda was like a briefing from the Politburo.

However, we must be living in “Moshiach’s times.” Pravda is no longer Communist, and no longer the official giant-paper. It is politically aligned with the oppositional rightist Russian nationalist forces. Until recently, I was convinced that I will never find one word of truth in Pravda.

That was until September 19, 2006. As if accidentally, I saw a link to Pravda.ru (on-line) that read, ‘Rebe Shneerson against Belykh and Gozman.’ Did they choose the title for sensational reasons? I did not know. I just clicked on it.

It was a political commentary written by a man names Andrey Scherbakov. He deplored the political platform of the leaders of the SPS (the Union of the Rightist Forces) Nikita Belykh and Leonid Gozman, which they published under “the hollow and meaningless title”: “Horizon 2017. Let’s restore the Future to Russia.” The program is criticized for suggestions of returning Russia to Yeltsyn’s times when organized theft and oligarchs prevailed and Gozman’s espoused atheism, which pushes away many religious people from the extreme rightist political movement.

So what does Pravda suggest instead?

Read on…

“We would add (writes A. Scherbakov commenting on a lead article by Chief-Editor of the popular Moscow paper “Moscow News” V. Tretyakov) that among the [Christian] rightists of America today more and more popularity are gaining the ideas of reforming the political structures made by the… spiritual leader of the Lubavitch Chasidim Rebbe Menachem-Mendel Shneerson… whose birthday is proclaimed by a decision of Congress as Education Day-USA.

“Although Rebbe Shneerson was an orthodox Jew, his ideas are supported by many rightist Christian politicians. In the opinion of this prominent thinker, the future development of America is impossible without education and revival of morality, and fascism and democracy are extremes that must be avoided.”

Next Shcherbakov quotes from Simon Jacobson’s book (in Russian) Toward A Meaningful Life , writing G‑d’s name with a hyphen.

“…Only a just government that is based on Faith in G-d can successfully balance individual and societal interests. The main flaw of any government, whether it is fascist or democratic, is that it is based on man-made principles. A government whose orientation rests exclusively on human reasoning will inevitably be the subject of preconceived opinions, bias and despotism of certain individuals or groups. However, G-d Who created all men equal has provided them with a system of absolute moral and justice”. (Toward a Meaningful Life, by Simon Jacobson, Moscow, Lechaim, 2004, p. 197-198).

“From such wells of wisdom, and not from association with all kinds of ‘samodurovs’ [1] should the ideologues of SPS (Union of Rightist Forces) draw their ideas for their programme documents. Leonid Gozman, who so much loves to refer to the practice of American democracy, should rather know, as Rebbe Shneerson reminds us, that the sessions of [US] Congress begin with an appeal to G-d. Since people of different faiths are presented there, this is not a traditional prayer, but a specially prepared text”.

“In the coming days the Political committee of the SPS will again discuss the Party’s Programme draft. Will they be smart enough to abandon the bankrupt “Gaidar-Gozman” policies will become clear very soon.

Signed: Andrey Scherbakov

(Pravda, Sept 18, 2006.  http://www.pravda.ru/politics/parties/sps/197428-sps_programm-0).

* * *

Natalia Rykova, the Press secretary of the Jewish Parliament senator and Moscow communal activist Vladimir (Moshe Shlomo) Sloutsker, wrote to said (in an email) she read the article and was absolutely thrilled by the Pravda call to accept Rebbe Shneerson’s vision of government by the rightist parties. She said this article should be publicized in Jewish Media wherever possible. Rykova confirmed my guess that Leonid Gozman, whom Pravda chastised for his atheism and extreme liberalism, is Jewish, ‘as are many in the rightist leadership.’

This will explain, in my opinion, the reason for alluding to Rebbe Shneerson in Pravda. As if Andrey Scherbakov is trying to say to Gozman: You are a Jew? Shame on you! Here’s a real Jew, full of Jewish wisdom, which Christians can also accept. Why don’t you follow your own sages?

Senator V. Sloutsker, a religious Jew, is now Vice-Chairman of the Integrated Committee of [Russia’s] National Policy of State and Religious Corporations’ relations at [Russian] Federation’s Council. In an interview to Izvestia (another major paper) he defined the ethnic and religious wars facing mankind as a result of the rise of the conflict of civilizations based on human values which are not directed by values of G-d.

This system of values which sets priority for spiritual character should be accepted by mankind in the form of concrete ethical principles. Sloutsker called on the Russian nation to become a leader in spreading the example of co-existence. Russia is the largest multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-religious society with a very large moderate, non-extremist Muslim population that knows how to co-exist. “We all believe in One G-d, Sloutsker says, but differ in the ways of how to serve Him. With this understanding Russia’s citizens can become a living example to the Islamic and Western societies.”

[1] Yury Samodurov (the name means “self-fool” and is used in the context as a word play) is the Director of the Sakharov Center and organizer of an anti-religious Modern Art exhibition under title “Beware of Religion” in 2003. The exhibition was destroyed by religious fanatics from the Russian Orthodox camp. However, no one of the mobsters was arrested, only Samodurov and his partner Lyudmila Vasilovskaya were found guilty in March 2005 of “kindling ethnic and religious strife” and fined 100,000 rubles (~3700.00 USD) each. Amnesty International, while admitting that certain displays of the exhibition could be considered offensive, said the sentence was inappropriate. Leonid Gozman, the ideologue of the Union of Rightist Forces is a close friend and supporter of Y. Samodurov. Gozman is a supporter of gay-parades, and passed a bill in Moscow legislature to pay the fines for Samodurov and Vasilovskaya.


*Berl (Yosef-Dov) Haskelevich formerly known as the Russian-speaking rabbi of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has been for many years actively disseminating the philosophy and practice of Noahism among influential people of the former USSR.

Posted on December 6, 2006
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