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Russia returned communist party archive to Israel ‘almost secretly’

April 24, 2019 at 11:14 am

Hebron University [Wikipedia]

The Russian authorities have returned the archive of Israel’s communist party, which was taken from Tel Aviv to Moscow in 1977, reported on Tuesday. The move has only just been revealed by local media sources inside Israel.

According to an official at the state’s National Library based in Hebron University, the archive was returned to Israel in May 2015 and it was packed in old bags similar to those used by Jews who arrived in Israel in the 1950s. Yaron Sahish said that the archive was returned “almost secretly” to Israel, noting that the documents and their relocation from Tel Aviv to Moscow in the first place poses several questions.

The archive includes full documentation of the Jewish communist party from 1919 in what was then Palestine, when the party was established, until 1977, when the Likud, headed by Menachem Begin won the Israeli General Election. The party, explained Sahish, feared that the right-wing Likud-led government would seize the archive, so it was sent to Moscow, the capital of the then USSR and world communism.

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Israel’s Makor Rishon said that Tamara Gogansky, the former MK from the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality, which included the communist party, started work ten years ago to get the archive returned to Tel Aviv. She spoke to officials in Moscow, who said that Russia would be happy to return the documents on condition that they were handed over to an official government body.

Gogansky suggested that the National Library would be a suitable recipient of the archive. It was eventually returned 18 months after the formal application for its return was made. She was reluctant to talk further about the issue when asked by the Makor Rishon reporter.