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Updated GLN Statement on Anti-Semitism of Nikolai Alekseev

GLN permalink 4-17-2011

In late February 2011 as Nikolai Alekseev, arguably Russia's foremost LGBT activist, arrived in the United States to begin his tour, he was accused of being an anti-Semite. The charge referenced remarks he had made on his blog in January (see blog entry below).

At the time, we made explicit our position on anti-Semitism. We quote:

The Gay Liberation Network does not tolerate hatred and discrimination against any group of people. For obvious reasons, it would be self-defeating for an organization like ours which focuses on winning LGBT rights to do so, especially since a key tenet of our direct action philosophy is solidarity politics.

We addressed the charge of anti-Semitism made against Nikolai. A few of us in GLN felt that he had clarified the meaning of the statements he had made in January and that he had publicly at Columbia University, and even more forcefully thereafter, stated his opposition to anti-Semitism and all forms of discrimination.

It was, therefore, with shock as well as sadness that we learned upon his return to Russia that he made a remark on his blog that could only be interpreted as anti-Semitic, namely, the old canard that Jews promote the Holocaust at the expense, intentional or otherwise, of international regard for the sacrifices of the Russian people in WWII (see blog entry below).

Nikolai's comparison is a staple of anti-Semites. They blame Jews for self-promotion and using their prominent position in academia and the media to "sell" the Holocaust to the world as an unprecedented and uniquely awful event. At the same time, more modest, less pushy folks---good Russians, or good Poles, or good Americans, all of them non-Jews---remain silent or are more reticent, out of a sense of decency, to trumpet their own suffering and therefore the world forgets their sacrifices.

Without for a moment diminishing the immense and unimaginable suffering of the Russian people in WWII, we deplore Mr. Alekseev's obscene and tendentious attempt, in effect, to isolate Jews from Russians, as if the thousands upon thousands of Russian Jews murdered by German commando groups in WWII were somehow not part of the suffering of the Russian people as a whole. Belittling the Holocaust in this manner undoes every effort he made in the United States to distance himself from anti-Semitism and it therefore reflects badly on him. Worst of all, it harms the very movement in Russia for the right of gays and lesbians to assemble that he has done so much to promote and help.

Our commitment to the fight for LGBT rights in Moscow and all of Russia is unwavering. With the support of the European Court for Human Rights coupled with a legacy of many years of struggle in the streets, gays and lesbians in Moscow intend to march openly and legally on May 28, 2011. They have our full support.

Original blog remarks: "The Israeli Prime Minister urged Western leaders to support Egyptian dictator Mubarak … And who after this are the Jews? In fact, I always knew who they were."

Remarks posted upon his reutrn to Russia: "But what you should not forget is that apart from 6 million jews who we killed in WW2 there were 20 million Russians (irrespective of ethnic origins, as all are equal for us) who were killed in the same war, including my own grandfather... But we are compassionate and we forgive. And we don't remind about it on every single corner, especially when we are in Germany."


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