section Break or continuity? "Anti-Zionism" and anti-Semitism under socialism and afterwards

5th Paragraph Invalids

  • Boris Maftsir
  • IL
  • 2023
  • 52

In the Soviet Union all citizens were equal – in theory at least. In reality, Jews were suspected, across the board, of being disloyal towards the USSR. To have “jewrej” entered in field 5 of your ID card meant automatic stigmatisation. Those affected remember.

In a collage of archive material, photographs and Zoom interviews the film creates a panorama of anti-Semitism in the USSR from 1950 through to 1990. In the process two narratives collide: the official propaganda of a country in which all languages and cultures supposedly stood on an equal footing and accounts of omnipresent discrimination.

The contemporary witnesses interviewed, who emigrated to Israel in the early 1990s, dealt with the insults, attacks and discrimination in different ways - some hid their Jewishness, others proudly displayed their Jewish identity and learned to defend it, with recourse to violence if need be. And yet they all had to learn the lesson that, even as well-integrated Soviet citizens, they were to be labelled as second-class individuals by their fellow citizens and the authorities - sometimes literally.

The polyphony of voices fashions itself into a common statement: Nobody spoke openly about the omnipresent anti-Semitism, yet everyone knew about it.

Text: Rainer Mende
English: Peter Rickerby

Following both screenings there will be a Q&A with co-author Lilia Tzvokbenkel.

Furthermore she is a panelist at the Panel discussion: Between state-controlled “anti-Zionism” and everyday resentment - anti-Semitism under socialism on Thu, Jun 20, 17:00-18:30 at the Stiftung Neue Synagoge Berlin - Centrum Judaicum.


original title 5th Paragraph Invalids

international title 5th Paragraph Invalids

german title 5th Paragraph Invalids

JFBB section Break or continuity? "Anti-Zionism" and anti-Semitism under socialism and afterwards

  • director Boris Maftsir

country/countries IL

year 2023

duration 52

Portrait of Boris Maftsir

Boris Maftsir

BIO Independent filmmaker. Born in Riga, Latvia 1947 and immigrated to Israel in 1971. In 1970 Maftsir was arrested by the KGB. and was sentenced to one year in prison on charges of Zionist activity. Immigrated in 1971. Graduated from the first graduating class of the Department of Film and Television at Tel Aviv University. For years Maftsir worked as a producer in the Israeli film Service. From 1994 to 1999 he was the Service manager. In 2009 Maftsir founded and until 2014 managed the documentary film department at the Haifa WIZO Academic Center. Management positions: Director of the Department of Culture and Art, Ministry of Education and Culture (1998-1999). Director General of the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption (1999-2001). Head of Delegation of the Jewish Agency in Russia, Belarus and the Baltic States (2003-2005). Director of the Yad Vashem Project to recover the names of the Jews murdered in the Holocaust in the Soviet Union territories (2006-2012). In recent years Maftsir has been working exclusively on a documentary project on the Holocaust in the Soviet Union. Producer over 200 documentary films and television documentaries.