The Soviet regime regards a desire to emigrate as evidence of mental illness. Soviet "treatment" of such mental illness is disabling. The disabled are "parasites." "Parasitism" is a crime severely punished. Nadezhda Fredkova is a "parasite."
In 1978 she asked to emigrate to Israel. Refused permission, she began a hunger strike. After 45 days she was seized and fed intravenously, and was told that if she repeated the offense she would be sent to one of those torture institutions known as mental hospitals. She again fasted and after 75 days was "hospitalized" and punished with drugs that left her deranged and partially paralyzed. The "doctor" who injected her with huge doses of muscle relaxants kept shouting, "Zionist whore!"
Released, she wasseized again and "hospitalized" with extremely violent patients. A commission certified her "abnormal." Released again, she was seized and sent to a psychiatric prison with no visitation rights. On Dec. 18 she was sentenced to two years in prison for "parasitism."
Soviet society was never seriously de-Stalinized, but even the small extent of de-Stalinization is being undone, and with special viciousness against Jews, as Stalin would have relished. Coinciding with today's rehabilitation of Stalin (the Soviet entry that won the gold medal at the Leipzig, East Germany, film festival celebrates Stalin) is virulent anti-Semitism.
It features, for example, a cartoon in Izvestia -- yes, Izvestia -- which could have come from any Nazi paper. It illustrates an ancient theme of anti-Semitism -- Jews poisoning wells (this time in Lebanon). The KGB has taken to planting, in the homes of Jews, narcotics supposedly used in religious rituals. This hoary libel belongs in the hands of the Soviet regime. Since the extermination of the Third Reich, the Soviet Union's partner until a falling out, the Soviet regime has been the world's foremost anti-Semitic regime.
The day Nadezhda Fredkova was sentenced, Margaret Thatcher, who fancies herself "the iron lady," was proving herself to be soggy cardboard. "I like Mr. Gorbachev," she swooned. You can be second in command of the regime that rests on the Gulag Archipelago, but if you come to Britain to distribute contracts to British businesses, you are likable.
Eight months ago, Andrei Sakharov, the most distinguished Soviet citizen, and his wife were kidnapped by the employees of the likable Gorbachev and his cohorts. The day Thatcher was gushing about Gorbachev, Avital Scharansky sat in my study, bowed beneath the weight of her weariness, and described the disappearance of her husband, Anatoly, the most famous Jewish prisoner of conscience. Three months ago, on the eve of one of the visits by his mother that are "rights" under Soviet "law," he was spirited away from the prison where he had been for three years. He was sent to another, from which no word has emerged, and in which three dissidents recently have died.
The day after Avital visited me, a Jewish teacher "guilty" of teaching Hebrew was sentenced to three years in prison for the crime of possessing drugs. The drugs were "discovered" in his apartment by the KGB. The same day the wife of another teacher was allowed to see her husband, but could recognize him only by his voice. His face was too disfigured by beatings and stabbings. Soviet authorities told her that he had lost his eye in an accident while peeling potatoes.
The day Avital visited my office, the Reagan administration -- another cardboard cutout -- announced that it would no longer block Poland's attempt to join the International Monetary Fund. When Poland's dictatorship imposed martial law in December 1981, its aim was the suppression of Solidarity. It outlawed Solidarity and took some political prisoners. The only slightly significant aspect of the Reagan administration's pathetic response (the administration rushed to subsidize martial law by helping to reschedule Poland's debts) was opposition to Poland's entry into the International Monetary Fund. Now the IMF will be another source of U.S. subsidies for the tyrants.
Having suppressed Solidarity, the tyrants have slightly modified martial law and released some prisoners. To these mocking "concessions" the Reagan administration has responded by opening the IMF to the tyrants, leaving them better placed than they were before imposing martial law. The tyrants take 10 repressive steps, then one minor "liberalizing" step (while torturing and murdering a priest), and are richly rewarded. This disgusting episode marks the collapse of the moral pretensions of Reaganism and illustrates the dialectic by which democracies perish.
The Reagan administration, tickled by the improved "atmosphere," notified the tyrants of their IMF victory the day before police gassed and clubbed Lech Walesa and other peaceful demonstrators. The Reagan administration, true to form, said this brutality was "almost" enough to cause reconsideration of its surrender on the IMF issue.