Russian Antisemitism, Pamyat, and the Demonology of Zionism 

 

by William Korey
 

 
Studies in Antisemitism Series Editor Yehuda Bauer

Chairman, Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Studies in Antisemitism brings together in one series major worldwide research on this complex phenomenon from which the student and decision-maker as well as the general public may learn. The studies cover antisemitism, ancient and modern, from a broad range of perspectives: historical, religious, political, cultural, social, psychological and economic.
Volume 1

The Catholic Church and Antisemitism

Poland, 1933+1939

Ronald Modras

Volume 2

Russian Antisemitism, Pamyat, and the Demonology of Zionism

William Korey

 

This book is part of a series. The publisher will accept continuation orders which may be cancelled at any time, and which provide for automatic billing and shipping of each title in the series upon publication. Please write for details.

William Korey: Russian Antisemitism, Pamyat, and the Demonology of Zionism
Published for the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism (SICSA), The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

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BRITISH LIBRARY CATALOGUING IN PUBLICATION DATA

Korey, William

Russian Antisemitism, Pamyat, and the Demonology of Zionism. - (Studies inAntisemitism, ISSN 1023-6163; Vol.2)

I. Title II. Series

305.8924047

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ISBN 3-7186-5742-2 (softcover)

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Contents

 Preface vii

1. Historical Background 1

2. Emergence of the Demonology of Zionism 13

3. Demonology of Zionism: International Dimension 30

4. Zionism + “The Greatest Evil on Earth” 46

5. The Freemason Component 60

6. Demonology: A Concern to the Kremlin? 74

7. Legitimation through the Jewish Anti-Zionist Committee 86

8. Glasnost and the Demonology of Zionism 115

9. Political Uses of the Demonology of Zionism 147

10. Resisting the Demonology 166

11. The Malady Lingers On...and On 189

Epilogue 219

Index 221

 
 
 

Preface

 

The emergence in Russia of the chauvinist antisemitic movement, Pamyat in 1987 has startled Western society even as it has stirred deep fears and anxiety among Jews and democratic forces within Russia. How could a supposedly Communist society whose founder, V. I. Lenin, had railed against racism and bigotry, give birth to a proto-fascist ideology and organization?

This study seeks to respond to the understandable, if provocative, query. The roots of Pamyat's ideology are traced to the tsarist Black Hundreds in the early part of the twentieth century, to certain aspects of later Stalinism and, most especially, to a virulent official Judeophobic propaganda campaign, masquerading as anti-Zionism, from 1967 to 1986.

What emerged in this centrally-directed campaign which saturated the public media was the demonization of Zionism, ascribing to the historic and modern Jewish drive for self-identity an evil and corrupting essence. Zionism was equated on an official level with every form of moral outrage and, at the same time, was applied in a rather unsubtle manner to Jews and Jewishness.

Analysis would demonstrate that the notorious tsarist forgery, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, shielded only by a Leninist linguistic gloss, stood at the core of the propaganda drive. That drive was extended in every direction,internationally, to intimidate the West,and, internally, to Jews themselves in order to silence any aspiration for self-identity.

Although the antisemitic campaign was finally halted at the state level by Mikhail Gorbachev, the social ground had already been fertilized for a populist and chauvinist Pamyat movement, emerging in 1987, which could exploit the much freer atmosphere of glasnost to pursue a program of hate. The earlier ideological roots could now flourish openly. Zionism, perceived as the embodiment of satanism, was to become Pamyat's principal target.

How the new and publicly blatant antisemitism functioned and, more importantly, how it was bolstered by the entrenched nationalist and communist apparatus in political and literary life throughout the glasnost era and beyond constitute the heart of this inquiry. To the extent that these nationalist and chauvinist forces remain throbbing, vital elements in contemporary Russian society, they inevitably invite a profound sense of concern among Jews and in the civilized community generally. Documentation provided here, hopefully, can serve to reinforce that concern.

The Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem has contributed significantly to making this work possible. Important additional assistance has been provided by the Sonya Staff Foundation. Valuable support was extended by the Joyce Mertz-Gilmore Foundation. In making travel possible to complete research findings, the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture was especially helpful.

The author is deeply appreciative for the constant encouragement of his wife, Esther. He is also deeply indebted to Seymour Reich, former president of B'nai B'rith, and to James Rapp for various types of support. Gerald Baumgarten of the Anti-Defamation League was a continuous source of needed documentation. Excellent secretarial and typing services were rendered by Eva Owen. Finally, I am very much indebted to Alifa Saadya for her extensive technical assistance in the production of this book.

 
Chapter 1

Historical Background

 

Contemporary Pamyat proudly traces its lineage and heritage to the Union of Russian People, founded in November 1905. Thus, at a meeting in Moscow on June 6, 1990 of a Pamyat group called the “People's Russian Orthodox Movement,” the speaker, Aleksandr Kulakov, told seven hundred participants that “we consider ourselves the spiritual successors of the Union of Russian People.” Analysis of the Union and its aims, scarcely discussed in western circ, aside from specialists on tsarist history, can serve as a useful point of departure for an inquiry into Pamyat.

Like the latter, the Union emerged into public view during a grave political and economic crisis in the Russian Empire which had weakened the power and authority of tsarism in the wake of defeat during the 1904+05 Russo-Japanese War. Its primary purpose, as perceived by its leaders, was to resist the unleashed wave of reform and revolution and preserve intact the institutions of the monarchy, Russian Orthodoxy, and the empire.

The Union's internal character and tactics were quite distinctive, indeed unique. Until then, tsarism had largely preserved itself along with its handmaidens,the Church and an empire of subjugated nations,by the force of imperial arms and armies. But a defeated Russian army, virtually in self-dissolution, made this technique uncertain. In the absence of other available means, populism,marked by a profound, xenophobic chauvinism, constituted the essence of the means by which the Union of Russian People attempted to support law and order, Throne and Altar.

What had been brought onto the historical scene, for both Russia and Europe generally, was a new style of right wing politics involving mass activity. It was perhaps quite appropriate to dub the Union's role, as a prominent European history work would note, as “Europe's first fascist organization.” One of the Union's reactionary leaders, V. M. Purishkevich, was referred to by his Sovbiographer as a “fascist” who had set an authentic style for a movement that would blossom forth in Europe a decade later. Some historians have suggested that the Union exerted a “tangible and substantial impact” upon German National Socialism through Baltic and Russian emigrés who found themselves in Germany after World War I.

Attributes of the fascism of the twenties and thirties were not uncommon for the Union, including street violence, paramilitary formations wearing special dress (for example, the “Yellow Shirts” in Odessa), personal assaults upon enemies (even murders), distribution of literature designed to stir envy and hate, marches and demonstrations. At its ideological core stood a vicious antisemitism. Jews were seen as dominating the press, banking and, through the Masonic societies, all key spheres of Russian life and influencing prominent liberal government ministers. Count Sergei Witte was especially singled out as a dupe of Jews and Masons. The Union denounced him as a traitor for “extorting” the democratic October Manifesto from Tsar Nicholas II, and for imposing upon the country a “Judeo-Masonic Constitution.”

Equality of ethnic rights, as elaborated by the Constitution of 1905, was regarded as anathema. Instead, what was sought was the severest restriction upon Jews and their total elimination from the capitalist economy. Governmental legislation, economic boycott and, if necessary, expulsion to Palestine was proposed in order to achieve this. Not surprisingly, the Union was a major backer of the notorious blood libel trial of Mendel Beiliss.

Targets of the Union extended to Masons, liberals, capitalists, foreigners, and westerners. They were seen as alien to Russian nationality and its tradition. But all these “cosmopolitan” elements were understood as only instruments of Jews. Antisemitism was the cornerstone of the systemic beliefs of the Union of Russian People. Its followers, along with the members of other small groups of rightist antisemites were dubbed the “Black Hundreds.” Not accidentally, when Pravda finally acknowledged the existence of antisemitism in the Soviet Union,which didn't occur until July 1990,it referred to Pamyat and other antisemites by the then almost forgotten phrase, “Black Hundreds.”

While the Union's chairman was a physician, Dr. A. I. Dubrovin, and his two deputies were a nobleman-landowner (Purishkevich), and an engineer, the majority of the membership ranged from petty-bourgeois elements to unemployed workers, peasants, skilled proletarians, and professionals. Never before had the reactionary right in Russia taken on such an all-class character. Estimates place its size in Moscow alone as 40,000, while overall membership figures,given by the Union,range from 600,000 to 3 million, although a hostile source estimated the membership as only 10+20,000. Even that low figure was significant for the times.

The Union had received financial assistance from officials within the Ministry of Interior. It also had access to the printing presses of the police department, which enabled it to conduct large-scale propaganda campaigns against liberals, democrats and, especially Jews. At the Union's disposal was an underground fighting organization composed of minor police agents, governmental employees, and criminal elements. They often stirred up armed attacks on Jews, while the Union's links to high officials, particularly in the Ministry of Interior, enabled them to acquire a secure immunity.

Interwoven into the Union's belief system was a set of ideas that found expression in the historic forgery, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which was first published in 1903 by the reactionary tsarist publicist, Pavel Krushevan. Fabricated by a tsarist police agent in Paris who drew upon an obscure work written in the France of Louis Napoleon and totally unrelated to Jews, the Protocols took on a life of its own. They were alleged to be the secret decisions taken by the “Elders of Zion,” at the first Zionist Congress held in Basel in 1897.

Five major themes predominate in the notorious forgery: 1) international Jewry, or Zionism, through the “Chosen People” concept, aspires to world domination; 2) that aspiration is to be achieved through guile, cunning and conspiratorial devices which will deceive the “goyim cattle” (the language of the Protocols) who are easily manipulated; 3) an especially powerful mechanism for achieving world domination is Jewish control over the world banking system whereby “all the goyim” will begin “to pay us the tribute of subjects”; 4) equally crucial as a mechanism of control is the ownership of the press, the seizure of which by Jews or Zionists will enable them to acquire “the power to influence while remaining...in the shade”; and 5) the deception is maximized by infiltration and manipulation of Masonic lodges which will “throw dust in the eyes of their fellows.”

Only fifteen years later did the Protocols exert a powerful popular impact. It was used extensively during the Civil War in 1918+20 in the Ukraine, when 30,000 Jews were massacred and twenty-eight percent of Jewish homes were destroyed. This was the largest pogrom in Russian history since the massacre of Jews in the Polish Ukraine during the Bogdan Khmelnitsky uprising in the middle of the seventeenth century. Later, the Protocols became the solid basis for Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf and his “Final Solution.”

The “Black Hundreds,” of course, did not spring full-blown from the revolutionary developments and political uncertainties in Russia in the first decade of the twentieth century. The powerful and omnipresent Russian Orthodox Church which had been intimately linked to the tsarist state, had long identified the Jews as “enemies of Christ.” When Tsarina Elizaveta in the mid-eighteenth century was asked to invite Jews into the Empire in order to develop greater commerce, she refused saying, “from the enemies of Christ, I wish neither gain nor profit.” Only in consequence of the three partitions of Poland in which Tsarina Catherine the Great joined Prussia and Austria, did vast numbers of Jews become part of the Empire. The bulk were forced to live in the Pale of Settlement, prevented from owning land, subjected to a numerus clausus in higher education and a host of discriminatory barriers.

Periodic pogroms (the noun is derived from the Russian verb pogromit, which means “to destroy” or “to ruin”) constituted a signal tsarist contribution to international discourse. Elizavetgrad, a Ukrainian town of 32,000 was the starting point on April 15, 1881. Prompted by emissaries from the St. Petersburg aristocrcalling for the “people's wrath” to “be vented on the Jews,” the peasants unleashed violence against the Jews in the small city. A wave of killings, rape, and pillage spread quickly to hundreds of other towns and then to the large cities of Berdichev and Kiev. By the end of the year it reached Warsaw, an outpost of tsarism, and moved on to other parts of the Empire.

The record of the 1881+82 pogroms was impressive as an example of frenzied antisemitism. Twenty thousand Jews were made homeless, 100,000 were ruined economically and Jewish property valued at $80 million was destroyed. A contemporary Russian writer described the trauma as “unending torture.” It triggered the mass emigration of Jews to the West.

Like many other oppressors before and after them, the tsarist authorities blamed the victims for the violence. The Minister of Interior, Count Nikolai P. Ignatyev, in a memorandum to Tsar Alexander III on August 22, 1881, blamed the pogroms upon “the Jews' injurious activities” directed against the peasantry. Hostility toward Jews was not restricted to the tsarist aristocracy and the peasantry. The radical populist intellectuals comprising the Narodnaia Volia urged on the pogromists on grounds that the “kikes...rob and cheat” the peasant and “drink his blood.”

The depth of popular anti-Jewish sentiment, while broadly surmised, cannot be known with precision. Negative perceptions about Jews were integral to Russian society. A tsarist Commission, comprised of moderates, after five years of lengthy inteand in-depth study of the Jewish problem, concluded in 1888 that Jews have a tendency to “shirk state obligations” and to avoid “physical manual labor.”

According to the fairly liberal Commission: “The passion for acquisition and money-grubbing is inherent in the Jew from the day of his birth; it is characteristic of the Semitic race, manifest from almost the first pages of the Bible.”

Such popular views provided the fertile soil for nourishing the ideas in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Popular antisemitism in tsarist Russia made possible the extraordinary blood libel trial, the Beiliss Case, in Kiev in 1911+12. Clearly, pogromist ideology was part of the baggage the Russians carried with them into the twentieth century.

Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, vigorously fought pogromist attitudes. While seeking to make antisemitism and pogroms a capital offense, he publicly denounced Judeophobia. “Shame on those who foment hatred toward the Jews,” he cried. The vicious stereotyping of Jews persisted even as the Bolshevik leadership in the 1920s tried to eradicate it. The populist Kronstadt uprising against Soviet power in 1921 was based in part upon peasant attitudes toward the “cursed domination” of Jews. In November 1926, the Chairman of the Central Committee of the Soviet regime acknowledged that Soviet white collar workers were “more anti-Semitic today than...under Tsarism.” An official survey of antisemitism among trade union members conducted in February 1929 in Moscow found that “anti-Semitic feeling among workers is spreading chiefly in the backward sections of the working class that have close ties with the peasantry....” At the heart of the prejudice, as it had been in the 1880s and afterwards, was “talk of Jewish domination.”

The 1950+51 Harvard Project on the Soviet Social System was based on interviews with Soviet refugees in the United States, people who had defected or had been captured during World War II or who had fled during 1946+50. The interviews reflected tremendous hostility towards Jews across the board, though the antisemitism of the Ukrainian refugee population was especially severe. Most of those surveyed agreed that Jews occupied a “privileged and favored position” in Soviet society; that they were “business-and-money-minded;” that they were “clannish,” “aggressive” and “pushy;” that they don't like to work hard and refuse to serve in the front lines of the armed forces. Despite two to three decades of Bolshevik rule, attitudes of the 1880s had remained unchanged.

Prejudice reached especially intense levels during the “anti-cosmopolitan” campaign of 1949+53, climaxed by the notorious “Doctors' Plot.” Ilya Ehrenburg, otherwise an apologist for Stalin's rule, was so shocked by the “ugly survival” of antisemitism that he was convinced “that to cleanse minds of age-old prejudices is going to take a very long time.” Had Stalin not died on March 5, 1953, there was certain to be “only one sequel: a nation-wide pogrom,” according to Isaac Deutscher, his distinguished British biographer.

Poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko raised the issue in a major way with his “Babi Yar” in 1961. He bemoaned how “the Russian people were blemished” by antisemitism and how the Communist song, Internationale, can “thunder forth” only when Jew-hatred is “buried for good.” When Nikita Khrushchev objected to Yevtushenko raising the shameful issue, the poet would not be silenced. The popular hate must be faced, he said, for “we cannot go forward to communism with such a heavy load as Judeophobia.”

“Judeophobia” had already become part of official policy by the end of the 1930s. According to Hitler, Stalin told Nazi Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop in the fall of 1939 that he would oust Soviet Jews from leading positions the moment he had a sufficient number of qualified non-Jews with whom to replace them. Stalin's promise was more than a mere diplomatic gesture to placate his new racist ally. In 1942, one year after the Nazi invasion of Russia, the Soviet authorities handed down a secret order establishing quotas for Jews in particularly prominent posts.

According to Milovan Djilas, Stalin in 1946 boasted to him that “in our Central Committee there are no Jews!” Stalin's daughter revealed that after the war, “in the enrollment at the university and in all types of employment, preference was given to Russians. For the Jews, a percentage quota, (as had been the case during the tsarist era) was, in essence, reinstated.

The government's policy of discrimination against Jews as individuals was largely a function of two internal developments in the Soviet Union at the time: deepening Russian nationalism (bordering on xenophobia) and the formation of a totalitarian structure. The new Russian nationalism was a dominant characteristic of the struggle against the Old Guard's “internationalism.” Suspicion fell equally upon those suspected of harboring sympathies with various non-Russian nationalities of the USSR and those linked, in one way or another, with the West.

“Cosmopolitanism” became the Aesopian term used extensively beginning in 1948, to mark postwar antisemitism. The media drive was directed against “cosmopolitans”,those without genuine roots in Russian soil, those without spiritual “passports,” those not really “indigenous.” Marxism was turned on its head. If initially “internationalism”,not national narrowness,was perceived as valuable for a socialist future, now it or its twin, cosmopolitanism, was denigrated and repudiated.

Antisemitism went hand in hand with official Russian national chauvinism, as it had during the tsarist era, at least since the reign of Nicholas I. Certainly, it was not accidental that official antisemitism made its first, if then only momentary, appearance at the time, in 1926, when Stalinist forces were attempting to inculcate a national pride in the doctrine of “socialism in one country.” Chauvinism catered to and fed upon popular prejudices. The World War II years were replete with examples of an unleashed bigotry linked to nationalist fervor. Many of the partisan units for example, were riddled with antisemitism.

That the Jews were particularly suspect in a totalitarian structure impregnated with a distinct chauvinist character is not surprising, for they indeed were a minority with an international tradition and a worldwide religion. Jews everywhere had cultural, emotional and even family ties that transcended national boundaries.

Furthermore, Hannah Arendt has noted that totalitarianism requires an “objective enemy” who, like the “carrier of a disease,” is the “carrier” of subversive “tendencies.”

This aspect of totalitarianism had a distinctive impact on the state's relationship to the Jews. The very nature of a system which claims both a monopoly on truth and the control of the “commanding heights” by which the preordained may be reached precludes human error or inadequacy. Only plots and conspiracies by hidden forces could interrupt, hinder or defeat “scientifically” planned programs. Stalin even considered his daughter's marriage to a Jew a “Zionist plot.” Other Soviet leaders may not necessarily have perceived the Jew as a “plotter,” but, cynically, accepted the functional usefulness of such a perception. The cynicism enabled the Jew to be cast in the role of a scapegoat, to be blamed for failures or difficulties in the regime's internal and foreign policies.

If both chauvinism and totalitarianism lent themselves to the absorption of popular antisemitism at high levels, the background of the Party leadership since the late 1930s helps explain the transmission and persistence of folk imagery about the Jew. With the influx of this group into the leadership, the wide cultural and intellectual horizons which characterized the pre-Purge Party leaders gave way to horizons that were provincial and cramped.

On both national and regional levels, almost half of the top Party executives in the early 1960s had peasant fathers. Only six percent had white collar origins, while a little more than a quarter came from the proletariat. Most likely, many of them learned negative Jewish stereotypes in their own , their own neighborhoods, their own towns.

The “thaw” following the death of Stalin was not marked by any effort be reduce the pervasive negative stereotyping of Jews. The broad discriminatory pattern against Jews sometimes totally, sometimes through tokenism, continued. Jews were excluded from leadership positions in the Party, the Soviets, the state apparatus, the security organs, the diplomatic corps, the foreign trade organs, and the defense establishment. Quota systems in higher education abetted the patterns. Such patterns ineluctably reinforced hostile perceptions of Jews. An interview by a visiting French parliamentary delegation with Nikita Khrushchev in May 1956 highlighted the attitude. Khrushchev was asked about anti-Jewish discrimination. He answered:

This is a complicated problem because of the position of the Jews and their relations with other peoples. At the outset of the Revolution, we had many Jews in the leadership of the Party and State. They were more educated, maybe more revolutionary than the average Russian. In due course we have created new cadres.

Should the Jews want to occupy the foremost position in our republics now, it would naturally be taken amiss by the indigenous inhabitants. The latter would ill-receive these pretensions, especially as they do not consider themselves less intelligent nor less capable than the Jews. Or, for instance, when a Jew in the Ukraine is appointed to an important post and he surrounds himself with Jewish collaborators, it is understandable that this should create jealousy and hostility toward Jews.

Hostility to Jewry was strengthened when Khrushchev launched in 1959 his campaign against religion generally. The propaganda drive against Judaism ineluctably, unlike the propaganda drive against other religions, took on an antisemitic dimension. Hardly unusual in the campaign was Trofim Kichko's Judaism without Embellishment, a book published in 1963 by the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences in Kiev which carried the typical set of canards about Jews: “What is the secular God [of the Jews]? Money. Money. Money, that is the jealous God of Israel.”

Judaism was linked with Zionism, Jewish bankers, and Western capitalists in a great conspiracy. A distinguishing feature of the work was the incorporation into it of a series of illustrative cartoons showing Jews with hooked noses, and similar vulgar stereotypes. It reminded one of Julius Streicher's Der Stürmer in the halcyon days of Hitler. After a worldwide outcry, the Soviet Party's Ideological Commission finally acknowledged in April 1964 that the book “might be interpreted in the spirit of antisemitism.”

What complicated the problem was the fact that no efforts were made to reverse the traditional attitudes about Jews that reached back deep into Russian history. References to Jewish history in Soviet textbooks were virtually non-existent. Little mention was made in textbooks or in newspapers of the heroic role played by Jews in the Red Army. Almost nothing was said about the enormous tragedy of the Holocaust or of the Jewish resistance to Nazism. Counteraction to antisemitism was rare. Earlier perceptions about Jews that could be traced back to tsarist epochs, in consequence, were hardly unusual.

Yet, this residue of bigotry from the past was not of a character that would explain the ferocity and virulence of Judeophobia that emerged with glasnost. One of the Soviet Union's most prominent scientists, Professor Yuri Osipiyan, who also served in President Mikhail Gorbachev's inner cabinet, the so-called Presidential Council, stated in the spring of 1990 that “ordinary, everyday antisemitism exists in the Soviet Union, probably to a greater extent than elsewhere in Europe.” The past is of course prologue to the present. Can the early twentieth century developments,the Union of Russian People and the Pro tocols,by themselves explain the distinctive Judeophobia of the present?

 


 

 

William Korey is a leading American and international authority on East European antisemitism and human rights. A graduate of the University of Chicago, he specialized in Soviet studies at the Russian (later Harriman) Institute of Columbia University where he received his Ph.D. in 1960. He served on the faculties of City College of New York and Columbia University, and was Visiting Professor at Yeshiva University and Brooklyn College.

Human rights became Dr. Korey's primary focus after 1960 when he was made director of B'nai B'rith's United Nations Office and then placed in charged of B'nai B'rith International Policy and Research. In these capacities, he stood in the forefront of the struggle for Jewish and minority rights in the USSR and elsewhere.

Dr. Korey is the author of The Soviet Cage: Anti-Semitism in Russia (Viking Press) and The Promises We Keep: Human Rights, The Helsinki Process and American Foreign Policy (St. Martin's Press). He has written a great number of Op. Ed. articles published in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, and other newspapers. His analyses have appeared in numerous scholarly and popular journals and in a variety of edited volumes.

Numerous awards have been extended to Dr. Korey including a four-year travel and research grant by the Ford Foundation. He is the recipient of B'nai B'rith's highest award,the President's Gold Medal.

 

 

 

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