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Parley Of The Irrevocable Bigotry With Mikhail Varkovitsky

1259 words - 5 pages

Parley of the Irrevocable Bigotry with Mikhail VarkovitskyMy great-uncle, Mikhail Varkovitsky, seemed very pleased and honored to share his ideas and past experiences upon such an important topic to combat the alarming trends with regard to anti-Semitism and racial discrimination in Russia. Speaking as someone who lived and worked in the Soviet Union 25 years ago, I am well aware that the decade since the fall of the Soviet Union has seen many positive developments - the rebuilding of Russia's Jewish community and improvement in Russia's anti-discrimination laws are among them. For this reason the persistence and even the increase in incidents of discrimination and harassment against specific groups on the basis of race, religion or ethnicity is especially discouraging.As Americans, we believe that it is our duty to join with people of conviction around the world who are prepared to work towards the elimination of racism and discrimination. This is a historic commitment for us, one rooted deeply in our national experience and one that requires direct engagement to achieve. And at the highest levels, it is a commitment that our two nations share, both President Putin and President Bush have repeatedly asserted the commitment of our respective nations to realizing full equality and opportunity for all, regardless of race, color or creed. The challenge is to achieve these goals in practice.America has long struggled to realize its motto: "E Pluribus Unum," meaning one of many. At times we have fallen short, but we have never stopped trying to reach this ideal. The people of Russia have fought their own battles against racism. Yet the fight against hate and division is not over. It is a tragedy that a nation that fought so valiantly to defeat Nazi fascism now sees the emergence of neo-fascist groups among its own citizens. In order to honor the victory against racism and fascism won by our parents and grandparents, and to demonstrate that we will defend the gains of their victory even sixty years later; we must condemn and confront every instance of racism and extremism, wherever they may occur.One part of our struggle as a world community must be the fight against anti-Semitism. My great uncle has well assured me the tremendous challenges that confronted Russia's Jewish community before things began to take a turn for the better in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Mikhail migrated to the United States in 1991, although in seeking to do so, he lost his job and was forced to be accustomed to "American lifestyle."Thankfully, since the late 1980s and early 1990s, the conditions of Jews in this country have changed for the better. I began to feel a great deal of empathy when he said "I attended and remember well the first human rights conference organized by the Union of Councils for Soviet Jews (UCSJ) that was held in Moscow in 1989, the very organization of which represented an act of courage." Today there is a space for working within the system, as...

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