Friday, 30 May 2008

Google founder: "My family left Russia because of anti-semitism"

Article by Tom Gross @ Mideast Dispatch:

"Google founder Sergey Brin, who stayed on in Israel for a few days after the conclusion of last week’s 60th anniversary celebrations, has told the Israeli daily Ha’aretz that “anti-Semitism was the main reason his family left Russia.”

As I mentioned in a previous dispatch, Brin, 34, was in Israel for President Shimon Peres’ presidential conference “Facing Tomorrow,” and took the opportunity to visit Google’s growing Israeli offices. He said Google is also considering buying some Israeli hi-tech start-up companies.

Brin was born in Moscow in 1973 to Jewish parents. His father, a would-be physicist, was banned from Moscow University under a Communist Party decree banning Jews from physics departments.

Ha’aretz writes: “Mikhail Brin decided to study mathematics instead, and was offered a place although the entry exams for Jews were sat separately, in rooms that were notoriously known as ‘the gas chambers.’ In 1970, he graduated with distinction. Later, he gained his PhD from the University of Krakow, and worked for the Russian economic policy-planning agency.

“Sergey’s mother, Evgenya, worked in the research lab of the Soviet gas and oil institute. Like her husband, she had struggled against the anti-Semitic discrimination which prevailed in the Soviet academia, and defied it.

“... The Brins decided to leave Russia in 1977. Despite the fear of being declared “refuseniks,” Evgenya was adamant to leave.

“In 1978 they applied for emigration permit, and as a result Mikhail was fired and Evgenya had to resign. The family barely got by for several months until their application was approved in 1979. Shortly afterwards, the gates of the Soviet bloc were hermetically closed for emigration.”"

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