The Russians came up with an unusually crass method for this, but guess what? Jews and other whites and East Asians all are, to some degree, kept from elite institutions today because of our more subtle system.
Perhaps you're unaware of these:
Affirmative action is not the same thing as making it artificially harder for a discriminated minority!
"Princeton sociologist Thomas Espenshade and researcher Alexandria Walton Radford examined data on students applying to college in 1997 and found what looks like different standards for different racial groups. They calculated that Asian-Americans needed nearly perfect SAT scores of 1550 to have the same chance of being accepted at a top private university as whites who scored 1410 and African-Americans who got 1100. Whites were three times, Hispanics six times, and blacks more than 15 times as likely to be accepted at a US university as Asian-Americans."
In Russia a minority like Jews are asked special questions in admission tests to make it harder for them to get in, while in America a minority like Asians are hit with a penalty of 450 points in SAT to make it harder (15 times harder) for them to get in. There's no difference.
If elite American universities didn't penalize Asians, they would almost literally have no non-Asian students. This is because Asian-Americans optimize the entire lives of their youth around maximizing their admissions chances to elite universities. There's racism here, but there's also just Goodhart's Law, normal old American anti-intellectualism, and the proper acknowledgement that standardized exam scores show very little about a university applicant's real life prospects.
Part of turning 18 in the USA is making the transition from subservient child to independent adult, over a period of years (usually by 26 you're considered definitely adult or way behind). Part of the problem with Asian-Americans is, they don't make the transition. Striver-immigrant culture and extreme focus on family (at one time a part of Jewish-American immigrant culture too, often more an immigrant thing than a particular culture's thing) cause people to overoptimize their kids' upbringing on being good little subservient worker-bee children, often leaving them semi-crippled when required to function as independent adults.
And then let's not even get into the cultural differences in areas of authority, ego and freedom between East Asia and America, which put Asians at a severe disadvantage due to their inclination, ground in by "Chinese mothers" over periods of years, to expect being ordered around all the time.
Before anyone calls me a vicious racist, a Chinese student in a class at university once referred to me as "more Asian than the Asians". I like to look back on how completely wrong he was :-).
I still think "affirmative action" is a clumsy and not entirely correct way of describing what he's trying to articulate. But he's not trying to be as provocative as he comes across. At least I don't think (?) he is?
It's insane to say discriminating against a minority is like affirmative action for everyone else. So if I don't like Bob I could phrase it that it's not that I don't like him--I do!-- it's just that I like everyone else better (including other people I dislike). And for someone to fall for that would be ridiculous.
Affirmative action is not just for minorities... in some (many?) places, the historically excluded group form a majority.
It is practically the same. When it comes to limited entrance, you can't make it easier for a certain group without making it harder for the rest.
Say you have a minority that's 1% of the population, and unhindered it would also make up 1% of enrollments.
If you don't allow that minority to enroll, you're increasing the acceptance chance of a majority group member by just over 1%, while decreasing the acceptance chance of the minority member by 100%.
The correct way to describe this is then most definitely discrimination against the minority, and not affirmative action for the majority.
Essentially it was more difficult for Jews to get into university, neutral for Russians, easier for Tatars and some other minorities and extremely easy for what's called Northern Minorities (they had - and still have special quotas, no exams necessary)
Speaking as 1/4 Russian-Jewish, 1/4 Chuvash, 1/8 Latvian and 1/rest Russian.
> Our team of the best eight Soviet students, during the month we had the problems, solved only half of them.
Those questions weren't hard. They were impossible. The point was simply to not allow any undesirables to pass. Higher standards for Asians might be bullshit but it's not the same as literally keeping all Asians out regardless of skill.
However there is a shortcut - under some conditions (either being a subject of one of Soviet "AA" incentives or being a winner of a math Olympiad), 4 or 5 for the first test (written math) gives automatic admission. 9 for the both math tests is also automatic and unconditional admission.
So the way the hard questions in the oral test come up is usually when you get 4 for the written test. If you could not solve 5th or 6th problem in the written test you are at the average level and giving you 5 (and automatically admitting you) in the oral test would defeat the whole purpose of the shortcut rule to secure admission for the exceptional students. So you have to get 4 or, really, 3 and such a question is to ensure that.
I don't know about anti-semitism, maybe there was some yet I have seen plenty of Jews both among students and faculty so, evidentially, they have not been entirely kept out. Yet I have seen a lot of people (of all origins) complaining about entrance exam being "too hard" and them being persecuted for various reasons. The reality is that pretty much every year from 70s to late 90s there had been several candidates for each student place so some people had to fail the test.
You can definitely make it less likely to be admitted for certain groups (e.g. people from out of city who would need a dorm room, there are only so many rooms) or more likely (e.g. minorities or "natzmen") but the article and comments imply the examiners had full ability to reject Jews. This was simply impossible.
Later is actually easier than former because while an unfairly low grade will have to be defended in front of several official committees an unfairly high grade will only draw attention of few students.
PS. Sorry to learn the oral test is gone. Though even during my time (91-96) the number of applications dropped dramatically and if this trend continued they probably have less applications than places by now.
> but the article and comments imply the examiners had full ability to reject Jews. This was simply impossible.
There are multiple evidences that it was going on. I'm not familiar with exact mechanics of how those failure problems were given to undesirables (it was before my time). But it's a historic fact that it was happening on a massive scale. There were even "Jewish" institutes, like MIIT which got disproportionally big percentage of Jews, because of the census policy in MSU (Mekhmat & VMK).
> Sorry to learn the oral test is gone.
In many colleges there are no entry tests at all these days. Major ones like MSU have written exams.
Then complain in your comment about all the people treated unfairly, don't mention anti-semitism only.
If you don't get this - there is little point in explaining it to you.
Implying that all the others who were discriminated against don't count.
And there were lots of them. Including, by these articles, victimized by MGU admissions.
EDIT: check out in the article where it says
"These problems were designed to prevent Jewish people
and other undesirables"
The same way it's offensive when my jewish relatives claim the Nazi genocide was the worst catastrophe in all history, conveniently forgetting the Cultural Revolution, the Cambodian Killing Fields, the Armenian Genocide etc etc
So I don't like the use of the word "anti-semitism" in the first place. But what really annoys me is that it is a euphemism, and a hyped one at that. To a first approximation, anti-semite means Nazi. Prejudice against jews is correctly called judeophobia instead.
shmerl managed both to commit this abuse of language
and complain about the use of stupid euphemisms at the same time.
And what he was complaining about - affirmative action to mean discrimination - is a far smaller abuse of language.
Claiming that the Holocaust (I'm guessing you don't like that word either) was the worst catastrophe in all of history is a different matter. Now you're dealing with a statement of fact that should at least in theory be either 'right' or 'wrong'. In practice though, I don't think it makes any sense to split hairs around wether it was the 'worst' catastrophe in human history. Who cares, it was pretty damn bad. It's hard to see why you would be offended - there's plenty of defensible views of the word 'catastrophe' that could make the holocaust the 'worst' catastrophe, and if by some other reasonable view of 'catastrophe' the holocaust only comes in at number 7, why would you view it as offensive if someone disagreed?
Same goes for your insistence on the right way to call 'prejudice against jews', where you also manage to find offense. Any mainstream dictionary will define anti semitism as something around discrimination or prejudice against Jews, which would make it's use in this discussion 100% legitimate.
Perhaps you could enlighten us - what exactly is the problem with Jews talking about ways in which they were hurt as a group in the past?
The problem is with shmerl saying we can't use the phrase "affirmative action".
At no point did the OP imply that there was no discrimination against other groups.
From the Frenkel article: "People of other nationalities, like Tatars and Armenians, against whom there were prejudices and persecution—though not nearly on the same scale as against the Jews"
One who thinks the Soviets hurt anyone more than the Ukrainians and Chechens is deluded.
Are you clear that "anti-semitism" carries some meaning other than "prejudice against jews"? So if you use it to mean "prejudice against jews" it is a euphemism. I can give you the history of the term if you like.
1. It actually has some substantial meaning outside of 'prejudice/discrimination against jews'
2. It is offensive beyond the offence that one might take from being accused of prejudice/discrimination against jews
As for (1), here's some dictionary definitions:
Merriam-Webste: hostility toward or discrimination against Jews as a religious, ethnic, or racial group
Collins: prejudice or hostility towards Jews
Cambridge: the strong dislike or cruel and unfair treatment of Jewish people
I'm not clear on what sort of historial narrative you could provide that would 'load' this term with substantial additional meaning and offense, but it would have to be very convincing.
Calling someone anti-semitic when you mean prejudiced is euphemistic in exactly the same way it is euphemistic to call someone a Nazi instead when you mean prejudiced. This cannot be literal unless said person is a member of the NSDAP.
Which is almost never the case because the NSDAP hasn't existed or had any members since 1945. In fact, "anti-semite" is approximately a synonym for "Nazi", though it is in fact an older term.
The term "anti-semite" was invented by 19th century German racist theorists to describe themselves, based on their social-Darwinistic style theory of race war. (This is also why your dictionary definitions are wrong. Look it up.)
The term strictly cannot apply to anyone who does not buy into 19th century race war theory.
For example, it is strictly a nonsense to call the Spanish Inquisition (or anything else before the 19th century) "anti-semitic".
It is also highly erm, dubious, to call a Russian communist believer in Marxism an "anti-semite".
The correct term is "judeophobe".
You should call someone prejudiced against jews "judeophobic", not "anti-semitic", unless (for example) he is wearing a Gestapo uniform.
The same way you call someone prejudiced against blacks a "racist", not a "White Supremacist", unless he is wearing a Klan uniform.
It was actually shmerl and not me who was getting all hissy about euphemism; I was merely calling him (her?) on his bullshit.
I realize that common usage may be sloppier which is why I did tag my post as being pedantic. I am disinclined to continue posting on this topic.