Drug Libel and Soviet Jews

An old anti-Semitic stereotype in the Soviet Union used to be the hook-nosed Jewish drug-pusher. In the minds of the populace, this became yet another aspect of anti-Jewish folklore, another “truth” to characterise the rootless cosmopolitans in their midst.

In a more modern sitting, the drug libel has been revived in the USSR. Recently two cases involving drug offences and Soviet Jews wishing to emigrate to Israel have come to light.

On December 24, Ella Baru went to the emigration office to check if there was any reply to their application to leave for Israel. She had already been thrown out of her job as head nurse in a large hospital. her husband, Maximillian Kessler, was working as a technician.

the official told her that their request had met with a favourable reply. she should, he said, come with her husband to sign the necessary papers for departure as soon as possible.

One hour later, she returned with her husband to find a reception committee of policemen, waiting for them. Kessler was driven away and later sent to a closed institution for drug offenders in the town of Novgorod-Sivirsky for one year.

About a year ago, Kessler underwent an operation for ulcers. While recovering, his wife gave him pain-killing injections of morphine in her capacity as a registered nurse. The recovery was total and no more was thought about it. The Kesslers have a little girl of seven, Galia.

In another case, a man known only as Fleisher submitted documents to the Kiev emigration office on June 16. Three weeks later on July 5, Fleisher was picked up on a charge of pushing narcotics.

he too has been sent to Novgorod-Sibirsky.

On October 19, permission was granted to the Fleishers to leave for Israel. Mrs Fleisher, however, was told by Siforov, the head of the Kiev emigration office , that her departure would be conditional on her divorcing her husband. At the clinic she was told that her husband’s release depends on those who have arrested him.

Jerusalem Post 25 January 1974

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