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Prague Trial - the morph from antisemitism to antizionism


Dr Bruria Bergman (passed away Sep 2009) was a doctoral graduate of the Middle Eastern Studies Department at University of Melbourne.



The New York Times, a representative of the Western press at the time, in an article titled "Tragicomedy in Prague" (23 November 1952), expressed the uniqueness of the Slansky trial in the camouflage of Antisemitsm  as anti- Zionism:

"If this were only a rehash of the Zinoviev and Kamenev ordeals of the 1930's, we might regard it as a purely Soviet farce playing a rerun in a new adaptation. But there is something new in this latest trial: the charge that Slansky and the majority of his fellow-defendants who are of Jewish origin were members of a vast Jewish conspiracy, betraying their country to ‘American imperialism' in order to serve the State of Israel...  Here we have the infamous Protocols of the Elders of Zion, but in the Stalinist version.... So the Prague trial is not merely a comedy; rather it may well mark the beginning of a major tragedy as the Kremlin swings further and further towards Antiemitism masked as Anti Zionism."

At Pankrak prison, Prague, on 5 a.m. 4 December 1952, the gallows put to death Rudolph Slansky, last of the eleven high ranking Czechoslovakian officials, most of them Jewish, who were unjustly convicted in what came to be known as the Slansky or Prague Trial.

In November 2002, fifty years later, (one month before the "Velvet Revolution" that separated the Czech Republic from Slovakia), Pankrak prison was the venue for an international conference of 900 scholars, who attempted to understand the monstrosity of the 1952 Trial and its executions.

The Prague Trial remains diabolically shocking for various reasons; some, such as the extortion of false confessions by moral and physical torture, were apparent in the 1930s Beria Trials as well as in the post WW2 Show Trials in communist Hungary and Bulgaria, triggered by the independent tendencies of Tito's Yugoslavia; however, in contradistinction to these Show Trials, the Prague Trial was the first to frame and charge its defendants as agents of Zionism and the state of Israel. It stands alone, as the first of its kind, to camouflage Antisemitism as Anti-Zionist, significantly, before the June 1967 war, and without any reference at all to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The language of the Goebbels era was adapted for use in the Trial's pre-determined and dictated script, which the defendants, witnesses and prosecutors, rehearsed and then repeated during the court sessions, and which was broadcast daily on the country's radio. This pre-determined script recycled Hitleric Antisemitic terms, camouflaged as anti-Zionism, into the new realities of communist Czechoslovakia, and post War-of-Independence democratic State of Israel.

The Trial's interchangeable and camouflaged ‘two anti-isms' although devoid of almost any factual truth, proved to be, as intended by their deployers, absolutely credible and believable to the majority of the Czechoslovakian audience, who accessed the Trial by the full range of the country's media. Therefore a retrospective understanding the Trial, requires a thorough understanding of the use of its ‘anti-isms': The Antisemitic and Anti-Zionist components, where, 1. As in Nazi Germany, being a Jew, or a Zionist or an Israeli is a crime in itself; and 2. Where the ‘two anti-isms' are not merely thematic to the Trial, but make up the mechanism that in its intrinsic demographic familiarity, transforms the lie into a social and political reality. 

This paper argues:

1. That the Trial is unique and unequalled in its capacity to offer social scientists, readers of Michel Foucault and others, a laboratory type module and a data-comprehensive setting, in which to test the inherent ability of politics and media in general to manipulate and generate fake realities.

2. That the Trial is unique and unrivalled in that it offers scholars of the Middle East conflict a laboratory type module and a data-comprehensive setting, to evaluate the excessive appearances of the camouflaged ‘two anti-isms', which since the Trial, at various UN and NGO forums, in Western Socialist circles, and in routine global media coverage, manifest not as items of individual substance, but as proven tools of mass and media control, designed to manipulate and generate fake realities.

3. That the Trial demonstrates a capitulation within the Czechoslovakian populace to the tenets of anti-democracy - an independent judicial system and a free media - a capitulation which misconstrued the core philosophy of the Czechoslovakian hero Professor Tomas Masaryk, first President of post WW1 Republic of Czechoslovakia, also an advocate of the elimination of Antisemitism. This 1952 inner/self betrayal parallels the 1938 outer/other betrayal by the liberal democracies of Czechoslovakia to Nazi Germany.

4.  That the lessons of the Trial support the reinvention of Masaryk's democratic philosophy, which needs to be upheld together with Natan Sharansky's ‘Democracy versus Totalitarianism' currently favored by the U.S. Bush administration.

Therefore students of the camouflaged ‘two anti-isms', should take note of the recent focus on the Prague Trial, a focus such as the November 2002 conference at Rankrak prison; likewise the documentary "A Trial in Prague" which since its first screening in 2000, was shown at the 2002 Pankrak conference as well as on Australian television.

Opening at New York City Quad Cinema to rave reviews, the "A Trial in Prague" documentary was written and directed by Professor Zuzana Justman, a New York based native Czech and a survivor of Terezin camp, who obtained film footage of material recorded at the trial. The newsreels of the trial are chillingly effective, demonstrating clearly that the confessions are made under duress. The most prominent among the defendants, Rudolf Slansky, was identified in public documents along with ten others as "of Jewish origin." Slansky, a talented man, a good organizer, a tough political bureaucrat, (Meir Copic, The Prague Trial - The First Anti Zionist Trial in the Communist Bloc, Hertzl Press New York,. 1987, p. 28) had been the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party in Czechoslovakia, a key figure in the anti-Nazi resistance in Slovakia and in the 1948 communist seizure of power in Czechoslovakia.  His fiftieth birthday on 31.July 1951, just prior to his arrest on 24th November 1951, was celebrated as a national hero. Justman also interviewed Professor Eduard Goldstucker, the first Czech Ambassador to the United Nations, subsequently Ambassador to Israel, who was made a witness at the Trial and was later convicted and imprisoned after a second Show Trial.

Justman weaves the harrowing story from first-hand accounts by the defendants' widows and children.  Sharp editing allows two voices to dominate. One is Heda Margolius Kovaly, widow of Rudolf Margolius, the talented former deputy minister of foreign trade, who having survived Auschwitz and Dachau camps, believed, idealistically, in Communism as the antidote and remedy to fascism and antisemitism. The other is the voice of Lise London, whose husband, Artur London, also former deputy of foreign trade, later survived his hard labour sentence to publish (1968) the first major account of the period. Justman's documentary is as compelling for the painful details, as for the rigorous analysis that ties them together.

It took the 1989 collapse of Soviet dominance in Eastern Europe to invoke a serious public interest in the Prague Trial, in Czechoslovakia and in international academia, as demonstrated by the 2002 Conference; though the film "The Confession", based on Artur London's diary, was made in 1970.

In the immediate sense, the 2002 Pankrac Conference is indicative of efforts by post 1989 historians to assist Czech society in coming to terms with its past. Professor Bradley Abrams of Columbia University, who specializes in Czech history, was at the Rankrak conference and answered an interviewer "That maybe nothing ground breaking in a factual sense, no new information has come out particularly about the Slansky trial." (Interview with Dean Vuletic, Radio Praha, 26 May 2003)

This assessment of the comprehensive knowledge of the Trial material, is indeed justified: during the 1968 "Prague Spring" (the non Jewish) Karel Kaplan, historian, secretary and prime motivator of the Pillar Commission, (the Czechoslovakian Communist party commission that was set up then to examine inter alia the Prague Trial), thoroughly examined the secret archives of the government and the party that staged the Trial. These, and interviews with people who staged the Trial, enabled Kaplan to expose all the machinations and libels: the physical torture, the moral coercion and the vile stratagems that the interrogators used to extract from the accused confessions of crimes they never committed, and convince the Czechoslovakian populace and audiences around the globe of their alleged truth. The 1968 Pillar Commission employed sixty experts organized into work teams for a year - historians, jurists, economists and leading party activists, resulting in a report of 300 pages.

Dr. Meir Cotic, a historian specialist in anti-Jewish trials, accessed Karel Kaplan's material and published a comprehensive analysis titled The Prague Trial - The First Anti-Zionist Show Trial in the Communist Bloc, (New York 1987), with an introduction by Karel Kaplan himself. Dr. Cotic offers an excellent, step-by-step tutorial of the complexities of the Trial, in their geo-historical and political contexts. Cotic includes quotations of testimonials, summations and the verdict. He tackles questions such as: ‘Why did the Kremlin switch from support of the State of Israel to an anti Israel offensive?  ‘Why the Kremlin chose Czechoslovakia?' 'Why did the accused confess?'. He supplies a list of the key figures, a chronology of the Affair and a bibliography, featuring books published by defendants who survived and by wives of the defendants, as well as by historians and archivists. Indeed, as Professor Abrams concluded after the conference, there is today almost no new material that can be added on the subject.

This completeness of the current knowledge-base of the Prague Trial, much lightens the task of activists in the study of the camouflage of antisemitism and anti-Zionism.

Professor Bradley Abrams continues to examine the outcome of the 2002 Conference:

"But what could happen is that it might encourage people to think about the Trials, and to think about them maybe in new ways... and try and understand exactly what did happen here in the first decade or so after the Communists rose to total power. a larger sense, I think, the Czechs and all of the other nations of Eastern Europe would like to excise the entire era of communism - not just Stalinism, but the entire era from sometime in the 1940s until 1989 - from their past as something that was aberrant, imposed by the Soviets and not true to the nation's ideals (my italics). This is more difficult for the Czechs to do than, say, the Poles, because the Czechs at least - this is leaving the Slovaks to the side - voted in their plurality: some forty per cent of the Czechs gave their vote to the Communist Party in the 1946 elections"           (Abrams Bradley, "Judging the political trials, fifty years on", interview with Dean, 26 May 2003.)

The Czech populace is thus faced with a double challenge: "to understand" and to "to excise" the communist past, in order to reclaim their core ideological truth; further this double challenge appears to be widely shared by historians worldwide, its universality demonstrated by the near thousand conference attendees, representing international academia, who likewise are interested in reclaiming the core truth.

But could, likewise, the Trial's Antisemitism camouflaged as anti-Zionism, become a "challenge" "to understand" and "to excise" to the Czechs and to world academics? What if it is "understood" that without the popular intrinsic social acceptance of ‘being a Jew as a crime', no matter the camouflage, the Trial could not have gained its popularity, and without this raison d'etre, could not have been staged? Would then the Czech populace and the world academia, which were eager to assist them, consequently "excise" the above camouflage outside the trial, as a prerequisite for a national soul catharsis?  

Kaplan, in his ‘Introduction' to Cotic, clarifies that "in the beginning there was the idea, the idea of a big political trial in Czechoslovakia.... since the party was in power, there must be ‘class enemies', and these disguised enemies in its ranks must be ferreted out" (Cotic, The Prague Trial- The First Anti Zionist Trial in the Communist Bloc, p.17). Kaplan explains that a theme of anti-Semitism and anti- Zionism - rather than anti-Titoism or anti-Western imperialism - was then pre-selected to serve this primary idea of the Trial. From the pre-selection of the ‘two anti-isms' then came the selection of victims, witnesses, prosecutors, defence counsel, judges, texts of ‘confessions', verdict; in all, the totality of material that is usual for a theatrical trial. Judaism, Zionism and Israel were ‘the enemy', the a priori, instinctive and intrinsic ‘enemy', and as such they were made to serve as the intermediary bond cementing "the idea of a big trial" on the one hand, with its arbitrary - and innocent - trial components, and on the other hand the all important public, both nationally and internationally

Since the theatricality of the Slansky Trial depended on the ‘two anti -isms' for both its credibility and popularity, the November 2002 Conference, with its quest for a sincere retrospective of the events, necessitates - can it not? - an understanding of the perversion inherent in the pre-selection of the ‘two anti-isms'.

The choice of the ‘two anti-isms' as content and structure for this outcome-predetermined trial, irrespective of the Arab-Israel conflict, was expressed, for example, by one of the Soviet advisors Likhatchev, at an early 1949 interrogation of Eugen Lobl, the first person arrested:

"You are not a communist, and you are not a Czechoslovakian. You are a dirty Jew, that's what you are. Israel is your only real fatherland and you have sold out Socialism to your bosses, the Zionist imperialist leaders of world Jewry. Let me tell you, the time is fast approaching when we'll have to exterminate all of your kind." (Cotic - The Prague Trial -The First Anti Zionist Trial in the Communist Bloc p. 239).

It is doubtful that any party member could have even defined Zionism.  Kaplan relates that in November 1951, Cepicka, one of the party's leaders and PM Gottwald's son in law, defined Zionism: "It is a branch of the American espionage services" (Cotic -The Prague Trial -  The First Anti Zionist Trial in the Communist Bloc p. 221).

In September 1951 the prominent Minister of Culture and Information Vaclav Kopecky delivered an "ideological" speech at the Central Committee, thereby setting the "logical" paradigm that interfaced the ‘two anti-isms', familiar from their all too recent Nazi usage, but set in cold war communist context:

"The issue for us is cosmopolitanism, not race. There are people of Jewish origin who are firmly rooted in our nation.... What we are concerned with here is those people who are strangers to us, who are not true internationalists.... The people of this background mostly come from very wealthy strata. In many instances they also had a very religious upbringing, which only fortified their Zionist tendencies. ... Today we know that the attitudes of many people of Jewish origin to the working class had changed. Hitler persecuted the Jews because they went with us; but now the Jews are drawn to Anglo American Imperialism, which is supporting Israel and using Zionism as a disintegrative agent within the parties of the popular democratic regimes and within Socialism. Do not take these words lightly. You must understand the great danger lurking here." (Cotic, The Prague Trial- The First Anti Zionist Trial in the Communist Bloc, p. 220). A similar speech was delivered after the Trial by the PM Klement Gottwald, declaring, in effect, a war to death on Zionism. (Oschlies, "New Stalinist anti-Semitism in Czechoslovakia", in Wistrich 1979, p.159).

Manifestations of the interchanging ‘two anti-isms' occurred at every stage of the Trial - from the preliminary investigations through preparations of the indictments and the tribunal proceedings; on the radio and in newspapers. The use of anti-Semitic insults, Der Stuermer style, was stock in trade of the interrogators.

Artur London relates an experience in the hell on earth Ruzyne prison:

"I am in the interrogation room together with four interrogators led by Smola. He grabs me by the neck and starts shouting: "You and this filthy race of yours. We'll find a way of wiping you out! You're all alike. Most of what Hitler did was wrong, but the one good thing he did was wipe out the Jews." (Cotic, The Trial Prague- The First Anti Zionist Trial in the Communist Bloc, p. 231) (Oschlies, "New Stalinist anti-Semitism in Czechoslovakia", in Wistrich 1979, p. 157).

In the Trial, that lasted six days, Slansky was the first to be asked for his rehearsed testimony:

"Presiding Judge: Elaborate on your activity in infiltrating Zionists into important posts.

Slansky:  I collaborated with the Zionists, whose divisionary tactics in their campaign to liquidate the popular-democratic regime in Czecheslovakia. ...  Those Zionists for their part brought other Zionists into various sectors of our political and economic life..." Etc. etc. and elsewhere:  "my past had already made me an enemy of the cause of progress and socialism. I was born into a middle class Jewish family..." etc. (Oschlies, "New Stalinist anti-Semitism in Czechoslovakia", in Wistrich 1979,  p.158).

The worsening of the Czech economy from the beginning of 1951 due to the Soviet Molotov program, which required the economy to switch from light industry such as the successful car production to heavy and military industries, was blamed on Slansky and his alleged Zionist collaborators. It was further alleged that property restitutions to Jews were robbing the state; that the trade agreement with Israel meant export in exchange for nothing; that the immigration to Israel involved smuggling of capital, etc.

The Israeli witness Shimon Orenstein was the last to be questioned, so that his testimony would stick in public memory and he was one of the few to be questioned by the presiding Judge and not by the prosecutor.  He was questioned about the Truman-Ben Gurion plan, and then about the Morgenthau- Acheson Plan.

He testified: "In 1947 the Jewish Agency sent its chairman David Ben Gurion to the US. There he spoke about the plan to set up a Jewish state in Palestine.... With the help of the American Zionist Lehman, former governor of New York State, and of Morgenthau, Former United States' Secretary of the Treasury, Ben Gurion and Sharet organized a secret conference in Washington with the participation of president Truman and the man who is today secretary of state Acheson"...

The "New Republic" Magazine on 8 December 1952 said about these plans: "There was of course no Morgenthau Plan and no State of Israel in 1947. Henry Morgenthau was not a Zionist. Ben Gurion was first introduced to Truman in 1951; Sharet in 1952. But these facts, as  lands beyond the reach of truth...".

The BBC in a program about the Slansky Trial, attempted to find the origin of the fabrication. It played a recording of a speech broadcast by Goebbels in Germany in 1941, which served as a kind of justification to the mass murder of the Jews. Gobbels described a "secret meeting" in Washington at which the so-called Morgenthau Plan was drawn up - he said by order of the international Jewish capital. The BBC commented that the Prague regime lacked imagination if it needed to resort to Nazi propaganda. Indeed, the similarities between the Hitleric public expressions on Jews and Zionists, and those of the Prague Trial are prevalent throughout.

As the arrests began, Antisemitic manifestations appeared in parts of the country. Although the term "Zionist" was used, the man in the street automatically took this to mean "Jew". In Bratislava graffiti "Jewish owned" appeared on Jewish homes, and slogans "out with the capitalists and the Jews". With Slansky's arrest there was an upsurge of anti-Semitism in the communist party proper. Party branches demanded to ban "citizens of Jewish origin" from party membership; and  "to transfer Jews from office jobs to manual labour at which they will be able to prove their attitude to the regime" etc. (Cotic The Prague Trial- The First Anti Zionist Trial in the Communist Bloc, p. 232)

 In Israel, Member of Knesset Eliezer Livneh (Mapai) lamented:

"What is happening these days has at once a global historical meaning and an immediate political one...   The Cominform has become an openly anti-Semitic International. All the Jew hatred that was accumulated by Nazi propaganda has been blended anew in this trial, The Nazi spirit has come to life again. People who heard the German radio quoting from Prague in the German language thought that Ribbentrop and Goebbels, Goering and Streicher, had come back." (Cotic, The Prague Trial- The First Anti Zionist Trial in the Communist Bloc, p.186)

And more of Livneh at the Israeli Knesset:

"We are particularly shaken by the fact that this time the charges were to a great extent based on the fact that most of the accusers are Jews and were identified as such, so that the concept ‘Jew' and ‘Zionist' are themselves a charge."  (Cotic, The Prague Trial- The First Anti Zionist Trial in the Communist Bloc, p. 186)

Zionism was widely besmirched as a menace to the workers of the world, and the State of Israel was repeatedly branded a representative of spies and subverters.

The New York Times, a representative of the Western press at the time, in an article titled "Tragicomedy in Prague" (23 November 1952), expressed the uniqueness of the two anti-ism's agitation of the Slansky trial:

"If this were only a rehash of the Zinoviev and Kamenev ordeals of the 1930's, we might regard it as a purely Soviet farce playing a rerun in a new adaptation. But there is something new in this latest trial: the charge that Slansky and the majority of his fellow-defendants who are of Jewish origin were members of a vast Jewish conspiracy, betraying their country to ‘American imperialism' in order to serve the State of Israel...  Here we have the infamous Protocols of the Elders of Zion, but in the Stalinist version.... So the Prague trial is not merely a comedy; rather it may well mark the beginning of a major tragedy as the Kremlin swings further and further towards anti Semitism masked as anti Zionism."

These effects of the Prague Trial were never abated, despite Nikita Khrushchev's 1956 speech (Harry Schwartz, The Red Phoenix - Russia since World War 2, Praeger Paperbacks, New York, 1961, p.80) and the Soviet rehabilitation of the Stalin era; but to the contrary, they have continued on in full force.

The effects of the Trial on the Arab world were evident immediately. Already during the Trial, radio Damascus repeatedly broadcast the details of all the charges brought in the Trial, with its own commentary. One broadcast said the aim of "the traitors of the Slansky gang" was to "destroy Czechoslovakia". Another rehearsed Slansky's "confession" that Israel intends to reestablish the Jewish kingdom from the Nile to the Euphrates." (Cotic, The Prague Trial- The First Anti Zionist Trial in the Communist Bloc,  p.230). The script of the Trial gave the Arabs a convenient lead in scripting their own anti Israel offensive.

In general, the Slansky Trial set out a clear draft script for the anti Israel and anti Zionist scenario to be followed in the United Nations, in other international forums, in western academic and media circles. Since the Slansky Trial the main thrust of Antisemitism using lies, disinformation, and falsification of history, has come from the Left rather than the Right, originating in the anti-Zionist agitation of the Soviet Union

The theme of antisemitism masked as anti-Zionism again came to the fore two months after the Prague Trial (13 January 1952) at the Moscow "Doctors Plot'. It was alleged there that well known doctors, mostly Jews, had confessed to having plotted to poison the heads of state - in the service of the World Zionist Organization, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, and the American espionage services. Venomous anti-Jewish demonstrations took place and many Jews were dismissed from their jobs and exiled. The trial was halted due to Stalin's death in March 1952.

Then, in 1967, in response to the Six Day war and the concurrent but unrelated nationalist revivals and suppressions in the Soviet Union, the tried method, as ever since the Slansky Trial, of calling the enemy "Zionist" was again employed. The Soviets launched their anti-Zionist Antisemitic onslaught: it is common knowledge that the Soviet Union suppressed  ‘aliya' and Jewish-culture movements and imposed Gulag imprisonments on activists; But they also published books, pamphlets and "scientific" articles portraying Zionism as racist; and they defamed Zionism and Israel in all propaganda organs, with a distinctly Antisemitic overtone. An "ideological" anti-Semitic indoctrination was perpetuated in a controlled, methodical manner. A "Special Commission for the War on Zionism" was established within the Soviet academy of Sciences. A 1971 book by one Yevseyev "Fascism Under the Azur Star" described Zionism as variant of Racism.  "Zionism, like Nazism in its day, is planning to conquer the world by force" (Cotic, The Prague Trial- The First Anti Zionist Trial in the Communist Bloc,  p.253). Scorlatov promoted the same theme in his book "Zionism and Apartheid" (1973) as did  Vladimir Begun in his book The Creeping Counter Revolution (1974). To strengthen the equation of Zionism with Nazism, Soviet propaganda alleged that the Zionist cooperated with Hitler, already reported during the Slansky Trial in the Czechoslovak daily ‘Rude Pravdo'.

I argue here that Resolution number 3379 of the United Nation General Assembly (10 November 1975) defining Zionism as Racism, while presented to the UN Assembly by the Arab bloc, is a repetition of the allegations made by the Soviet propaganda machine, within the USSR and outside it, ever since the Slansky Trial. This applies likewise to the Durban UN conference of September 2001.

Natan Sharansky, himself a former imprisoned Russian activist accused of spying for Zionism and the US, and once Minister in the Israeli Cabinet, spoke about Antisemitism and Anti-Zionism in the United Nations, in a conference on Antisemitism held in Paris 2003:

"A year after the current round of Palestinian violence began, and after hundreds of Israelis had already been killed in buses, discos, and pizzerias, a so-called ‘World Conference against Racism' was held under the auspices of the United Nations in Durban, South Africa. It turned into an anti-Semitic circus, with the Jewish state being accused of everything from racism and apartheid to crimes against humanity and genocide. In this theater of the absurd, the Jews themselves were turned into perpetrators of anti-Semitism, as Israel was denounced for its ‘Zionist practices against Semitism' that is the Semism of the Palestinian people."

"But Israel, it should be clear, is not guilty. The Jewish state is no more the cause of anti-Semitism today than the absence of a Jewish state was its cause a century ago."

"To see why, we must appreciate that the always specious line between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism has become completely blurred: Israel has effectively become the world Jew.... Norman Podhoretz observed that the Jewish state "has become the touchstone of attitudes toward the Jewish people, and anti-Zionism has become the most relevant form of anti-Semitism... A clear sign of the anti-Semitic impulse at work has been, for centuries, the use of the double standard... Such double standards are applied just as recklessly today to the Jewish state. It is the democratic Israel, not any of the dozens of tyrannies represented in the United Nations General Assembly, that is singled out for condemnation in over two dozen resolutions each year. It is against Israel not against Cuba, North Korea, China, or Iran that the UN human-rights commission, chaired recently by lily-pure Libya, directs nearly a third of its official ire; the list goes on and on."

The Professor of Jurisprudence Julius Stone (-1985) of the University of Sydney, who is recognized as an authority on International Law, published in 1980, his magnum opus, Israel and Palestine - An assault on the Law of Nations, ( Professor Stone concludes there:

"The extraordinary campaign against the State of Israel in the General Assembly... involves subversions both of basic international law principles, and rights and obligations vested in states under them. It ...  also entails grotesque reversals of the United Nations own positions... as part of a wide and illicit rewriting of history..."

Professor Ann Bayefsky, who represented the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists at the Durban conference, documented the travesty of justice at the conference and at the UN at large, where Antisemitism and anti-Zionism have become mainstream and routine. Her documentation was in January 2004 compiled by HonestReporting in an illuminating PowerPoint Presentation of 100 slides, typical of which is a cartoon by Bee, depicting a giant paper basket in the UN building in New York, marked "Israel".

Per Ahlmark, former Leader of the Swedish Liberal Party and Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden, said in a recent address at Yad Va'shem, Jerusalem:

"And never forget Durban! ....the Durban meeting, which should have been an anti-racist conference, was in fact part of an ideological pogrom against Israel... suggesting that Jews were not primarily victims of the Holocaust but perpetrators of another Holocaust, against the Palestinians."

"....the demonization of the only democracy in the Middle East is a central part of the new anti-Jewishness. Israel is branded by the dictatorships as a systematic violater of all sorts of human rights. When this country is described "as the enemy of all good and the repository of all that is evil...., it becomes a 'teaching of contempt' within the UN.... this a parallel to the medieval indictment of the Jew as the 'poisoner of the wells'. Portraying Israel as a leper state makes it the 'poisoner of the international wells."

Professor Robert Wistrich´s summary of Per Ahlmark's address is that "the accumulation of anti-Israeli resolutions (at the UN) is liable to cause the complete delegitimization of the Jewish state".

Irvin Cotler, law professor, Canadian Member of Parliament, and at the time Canada's Minister of Justice, concluded his "Essay: Human Rights and the New Antisemitism", republished in the Jerusalem Post (5 February 2004):

"But the problem is not that Israel as the ‘Jew among Nations' seeks to be above the law, but that it has been systematically denied equality before the law; not that Israel must respect human rights - which it should - but that the human rights of Israel have not been respected; not that human rights standards should be applied to Israel - which they must - but that these standards have not been applied equally to anyone else."

"Israel and the Jewish people have been singled out for differential and discriminatory treatment in the international arena - and worst of all - singled out for destruction".

The extraordinary subversion described here, in the United Nations and in other international forums, can hardly find a closer parallel than the Prague Trial.

Professor Leon Volovic, Head of Research at the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism at the Hebrew University, in a recent interview with Robert Sklar, discussed current Antiemitism in relation to its origin in the Slansky Trial:

".... the Slansky trial, which had strong Antisemitic and anti-Zionist elements... was a kind of manipulative Antisemitism. Later, after Stalin, the evolution was different in each country... Always you have the impression that it's a tool, which every political communist leader preserved in order to use when necessary. Because it works - or they are convinced that it works... "

Ahlmark, in his important article, displayed on the UN Watch website, "How Democracy Prevents Civic Catastrophes", quotes Professor Rummel of the University of Hawaii, that "The marriage of an absolutist ideology with absolute power led to the disasters"... and  "the rage and utopian strivings of Marxists in power triggers mass slaughter", which he terms "democide", so that "First civic society was destroyed, then the killing accelerated". 

Professor Volovic shows that under communism, anti- Semitism as anti-Zionism became "a tool to be used when necessary".

Professor Rummel demonstrates through his ingenious statistical research that "the most important fact of our time" is that democracy protects lives and dictatorship takes lives... The total political killing (1902-1990) carried out by countries based on repression is about 170 million people, roughly four times more than the number of people killed in war.... The Holocaust proved that evil ideology combined with total power can bring our societies to catastrophes never seen before. ...The Communist leaders of this century have taught us something else: that it is possible for a number of governments to continue exterminating human beings for the most ridiculous reasons, or for no reason at all, on the largest scale ever seen before... Is it impossible to recognize both of these two uniquenesses?... for we know that the big drama of our time is the constant struggle between freedom and oppression".

In summary,

1. The Slansky Trial demonstrates that the language of Antisemitism and anti-Zionizm of the dictatorship of Communism was imported from Nazism and recycled by the Soviet regime. The UN Conference at Durban is just one example how the same is employed by the UN.

2. The Slansky Trial is unique in its demonstration that the language and pattern of pre 1967 Israeli Arab conflict is prejudicial against the Jewish people and Israel. The Palestinian cause is a subset of this prejudice.  The absence of any mention of the Arab-Israeli conflict in the Antisemitic, anti-Zionist and anti-state-of-Israel 1952 Slansky Trial, is proof that the Palestinian issue is not the cause of the these anti-isms, but to the contrary, it  that the Palestinian issue has been set up later, tragically, in the United Nations and elsewhere, as a convenient political tool of expediency at the service of past, present and future/aspiring dictatorships, small and large.

3. The success of the Slansky Trial in staging a big lie, of which Soviet controlled media served as a faithful tool, is a lesson that needs to be learned carefully by contemporary media experts. The success of the media there, at the service of a dictatorship, in creating a bogus social/political reality, can be shown to parallel the role of global media in creating a bogus image of Israel as the alleged aggressor against the Palestinians.

4. For the contemporary Czech populace pondering over the Prague Trial, and for nearly a thousand world academics, who in 2002 joined in the Czech quest, the above points, together with Per Ahlmark's article on democracy, provides a useful correction The Left, globally, or what is left of it, can, likewise, take note.

I would like to conclude here with three quotes. Each in its own way offers a glimmer of hope. First from Tomas Masaryk, President of the democratic Czech Republic that in 1938, tragically, was handed over to Hitler by the appeasing Chamberlain. In this quote Masaryk says that politics, and its mechanisms, are subject to "conscious formation of people", and that this is what makes reality.

"Politics has an element of poetry in it....... I believe life itself is a play just as a Shakespeare play is life itself.  And what is politics - true politics - but the conscious formation of people, the fashioning and molding of real life?" (Čapek, Karel, Talks with Masaryk  (trans. Dora Round), Catbird, New Haven, CT, 1995. P. 83. 

Secondly, a quote from Mordechai Oren, on returning in 1956 from the Prague prison to his Kibbutz Mizra:

"When I was released I examined the papers that had been returned to me. I found that my party membership had been confiscated. I would like to end my speech with two small requests: that I be given a new party membership card, and that I be allowed to return soon to public life to take part in the great construction work, the Zionist -halutz and the socialist revolution struggle."  (Krammer, Arnold.  "Prisoners in Prague; Israelis in the Slansky Trial", Wistrich, Robert Solomon, (Ed.), The Left Against Zion - Communism, Israel and the Middle East,. Vallentine, Mitchell 1979, p. 84)

Finally, a quote from Professor Volovic, commenting in November 2002 on his experience that sometimes the intelligentsia in post communist countries rejects antisemitism and is open to the truth:

"It was very evident for me that intellectuals at the academy and the university - for this milieu--the real intellectual elite--to be an anti-Semite meant to be a collaborator with an anti-patriotic regime. It was something which must be totally rejected. So the reaction of society was not always as the political leaders expected. Sometimes anti-Semitism worked, sometimes it didn't." (Volovic, CER website, 15 November 2002).

Select Reading and References

Bradely Abrams, "Judging the political trials, fifty years on", interview with Dean, 26 May 2003.

Per Ahlmark, "Combatting old/new antisemitism" Speech, 11 April  2002, International Conference "The Legacy of Holocaust Survivors", Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, April 8-11, 2002, UNWatch website.

Per Ahlmark, ‘How Democracy Prevents Civic Catastrophes', speech, The European Liberal Democrats, European Parliament, Krakow, 8 April 1999,. UNWatch website.

Yehuda.Bauer, Anti-Semitism Today: Myth and Reality. Jerusalem: Hebrew University, Institute of Contemporary Jewry; Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Anti Semitism; Shazar Library,1985.

Anna Bayefky,  "What about Anti-Semitism? Incitement is the Root of the Arab-Israeli conflict". 10 May 2002,  The Washington Times.

David Ben Gurion, Israel A Personal History, The New English Library, London. 1971

Michael Colston, "Durban Warfare", ‘Australia Israel Review', September 2001,

Meir Copic, Dr., The Prague Trial - The First Anti Zionist Trial in the Communist Bloc, Hertzel Press, New York, 1987.

Eduard, Goldstucker,.  Interview, "Reds" Magazine,  28 January 1996

.Joel S. Fishman,"The Cold War Origins of Contemporary Anti-Semitic Terminology" Jerusalem Viewpoints No517 2, The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, 16 May 2004


Zuzana, Justman, Professor,.."A Trial in Prague". Documentary, 2000, (available on ‘')


Krammer, Arnold.  "Prisoners in Prague; Israelis in the Slansky Trial", Wistrich, Solomon Robert, (Ed.), The Left Against Zion - Communism, Israel and the Middle East,. Vallentine, Mitchell 1979, pp.71-86.

Thomas Masaryk, The Meaning of Czech History, Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 1974.

Čapek, Karel,.  Talks with Masaryk  (trans. Dora Round), Catbird, New Haven, CT, 1995.

W. Oschlies,  "Neo Stalinist Anti Semitism in Czechoslovakia", Wistrich, Solomon Robert, (Ed.), The Left Against Zion - Communism, Israel and the Middle East,. Vallentine, Mitchell 1979  (pp.153-165)


Anna Rosenbaum, "Czechoslovak Jewry during Communist Rule - a Hidden Minority"

Association of Jewish Studies Conference, February 2005

Harry Schwartz, The Red Phoenix - Russia since World War 2, Praeger Paperbacks, New York, 1961

Nathan Sharansky, "On Hating the Jews", Commentary Magazine, November 2003, (from a speech at the conference on Anti Semitism, Paris, May 2003.)

Nathan Sharansky, and Ron Dermer, The Case for Democracy, PublicAffairs, 2004.

Yehonathan Tomer,  "The Dissident and The president - an exclusive interview with Nathan Sharansky",  The Australia Israel Review, January 2005.

Volovic, Leon., ‘Imaginary Jews and Real Anti-Semites' Interview with Robert Sklar, CER website, 15 November 2002.

Wistrich, Solomon Robert,  (Ed.), The Left Against Zion - Communism, Israel and the Middle East,. Vallentine, Mitchell, 1979

Wistrich, Solomon Robert,  Anti Zionism and Anti Semitism in the Contemporary World,. New York University Press, 1990





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The Velvet Revolution refers to the overthrow of Communism in the winter of 1989 and has nothing to do with the peaceful split by Czechs and Slovaks in 2002

Posted by anon on 2008-11-10 00:10:34 GMT