“It’s the same slogans and you know where they borrowed them”: Izabella Tabarovsky on the parallels between Soviet and present-day far-left antisemitism
Izabella Tabarovsky, an expert on Soviet and contemporary left antisemitism, appeared on the most recent episode of Podcast Against Antisemitism where she discussed the parallels between the two, and how much of the modern-day far-left antisemitism draws from Soviet anti-Zionist propaganda.
Ms Tabarovsky said that much of the antisemitic rhetoric emanating from the far-left is something that “I used to hear,” adding: “I grew up in the Soviet Union. It’s something that I read about in Soviet propaganda materials which I have been researching over the last several years. They make for a pretty depressing read because it’s the same slogans and you also know where they borrowed them. Essentially, it’s a reprocessed antisemitic conspiracy theory.
“Take ‘Zionism is racism,’ ‘Zionists are fascists,’ ‘Zionists act like Nazis’…the whole idea that Zionism is the greatest evil on Earth and always suspect, and Zionists are always up to no good, that is the conspiracist aspect to it.”
Describing the conflation between the term “Zionist” and “Jew”, Ms Tabarovsky noted that “It’s just a direct parallel and it’s truly incredible for me to be hearing it today in America and in the Western press. I truly thought I left all of it behind when I came to America.”
When asked about recent remarks in which the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov claimed that Hitler had “Jewish origins” in his latest insulting attempt to justify his country’s invasion of Ukraine, Ms Tabarovsky: “When I saw that, it was as if they’re acting on these old Soviet propaganda memos. But there’s also something new. With antisemitism, we know that it adjusts itself to the current conditions. A new angle is applied to old antisemitic conspiracy theories and rhetoric.
Speaking on Vladimir Putin and Mr Lavrov, Ms Tabarovsky said that “They know really, really well how to manipulate the Jewish topic, the Jewish question, and they know the power of that manipulation. They know it can unify their supporters. Hatred against Jews can unify people across the spectrum, as we know.”
Throughout the interview, Ms Tabarovsky touched upon a wide variety of topics which included her escape from the Soviet Union and why she feels that antisemitism from the far-left manages to go relatively unchecked compared to antisemitism from the far-right.
The podcast with Ms Tabarovsky can be listened to here, or watched in its entirety here.
Podcast Against Antisemitism, produced by Campaign Against Antisemitism, talks to a different guest about antisemitism each week. It streams every Thursday and is available through all major podcast apps and YouTube. You can also subscribe to have new episodes sent straight to your inbox.
Previous guests have included comedian David Baddiel, television personality Robert Rinder, writer Eve Barlow, Grammy-Award-winning singer-songwriter Autumn Rowe, and actor Eddie Marsan.