ADL To Putin: Intervene To End Investigation of Jewish Holy Book
Update: On June 28, 2005, the Russian Prosecutor's office informed Russian Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar that the investigation had been halted.
New York, NY, June 27, 2005 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today expressed outrage at the decision of the Moscow District Prosecutor to order an investigation into the Jewish holy book that is the widely regarded authoritative text of Jewish law, on the baseless grounds that its contents are insulting towards non-Jews. Rabbi Zinovy Kogan, Chairman of the Congress of Jewish Organizations, which published an abbreviated version in Russian of the Shulhan Aruch, the 16th century codification of Jewish law, was questioned on June 23 by the Moscow District Prosecutor's office about its contents.
In a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, declared that, "the behavior of the District Prosecutor brings to mind the anti-Semitic persecution witnessed under the Tsars and during the rule of Stalin." The Prosecutor's action, Mr. Foxman wrote, "confirms our fears about the revival of anti-Semitic tendencies in Russia."
The League leader called on President Putin to "intervene immediately to end the Moscow District Prosecutor's investigation and to condemn anti-Semitic expressions and acts in Russia."
The investigation follows a call, sponsored by extreme nationalists and communists, to ban Jewish organizations in Russia. Five hundred public figures, including 20 members of the Russian parliament, signed a January statement calling for a ban. This was followed in March by a petition signed by 5,000 activists from the Russian Orthodox Church, also demanding a ban. The statement, which was based upon the false claim that the Shulhan Aruch is an expression of "Jewish chauvinism", repeated many of the most disgraceful lies leveled against the Jewish people, including the infamous 'blood libel' and the identification of Judaism with Satanism.
"We now think of Russia as a modern democracy, but this sort of anti-Semitic agitation is a throwback to the darkest medieval days," Mr. Foxman said. "The Russian government needs to declare a zero tolerance policy on anti-Semitism immediately. Russia also needs to know that the outside world is watching. We cannot and will not permit a situation in which Russian Jews are again at the mercy of extremists, xenophobes and anti-Semites."
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.