Russian paper has all the news fit for anti-Semites

MOSCOW — Russia's most rabidly anti-Semitic newspaper is back in print after a 10-month hiatus.

Al-Kods, which bills itself as the "Russian-Palestinian Voice," was shut down last November by the Russian State Committee on the Press for a technicality: The paper's publisher was not a Russian citizen.

But now Shaaban Hafez Shaaban, originally a Palestinian from Jordan, has acquired Russian citizenship and his bimonthly is back on the newsstands, brandishing its trademark racist slogans and promising its readers in 12-point capital letters "WE WILL BURY ZIONISM IN RUSSIA!!!"

The reissue of Al-Kods, the Arab name for Jerusalem, not only underscores what is seen as the passivity of the Russian Press Committee, but also represents an indictment of the country's judiciary.

Though the Russian criminal code prohibits just the sort of "incitement to racial hatred" to which the Russian-Palestinian paper enjoins its readers, authorities have not prosecuted any of the dozens of Russian papers spewing hate and being sold at every Moscow metro subway station.

The front cover of the latest issue of Al-Kods shows a huge cartoon of the paper's Palestinian publisher nailed to a Star of David in a parody of the crucifixion of Jesus. Underneath is a long article propagating the myth of a Zionist conspiracy plotting the downfall of the Russian nation, and relying heavily on quotes from the notorious anti-Semitic tract, the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion."

"Real power in Russia lies not with the people and not even with the bureaucrats but with Zionists and they are doing what they want," the text reads.

"Our paper was closed because we were dangerous for Zionists," it says. "They own all the keys to power in Russia and dictate their own laws."

One article focused on "The Jewish Question in Russia," while another piece, by the publisher, parodied the government's political party, Our House is Russia, by renaming it "Our House is Israel." The article faulted the Russian government for wearing "the face of Zionism."

The vice chairman of the Russian State Press Committee, which had closed down the paper, said he sees "undeniable signs of anti-Semitism in the new edition."

"I'm certain that we'll be taking measures to prosecute any new violations of the law," said Valery Sirozhenko.

But real action depends on Russia's prosecutors, who often are loathe to invoke the laws.