Putin and Jews. How Russia is heading for state anti-Semitism

Putin and Jews. How Russia is heading for state anti-Semitism

Russian propaganda often uses the Jewish issue to divide Ukrainians and Jews.

It does this mainly by parasitizing on historical issues or by blowing up various minor incidents to universal proportions (often by fabricating them).

No one believes the image of Ukrainians as "hardened anti-Semites" created by the Russians.  First of all, because any complaints about Ukrainian anti-Semitism on the part of the Kremlin look comical against the backdrop of Russian chauvinism and xenophobia, which have flourished in modern Russia.

Indeed, while Russians are trying to present themselves as the main "denazifiers," the question of whether it is time to leave the country or to suffer is becoming increasingly relevant for the Jewish community of the Russian Federation itself.

To tell the truth, Jews were urged to leave Russia back in December 2022 by none other than the former Chief Rabbi of Moscow, Pinchas Goldschmidt.

"When we look back over Russian history, whenever the political system was in danger you saw the government trying to redirect the anger and discontent of the masses towards the Jewish community. We saw this in tsarist times and at the end of the Stalinist regime," the rabbi said in an interview with The Guardian.

Pinchas Goldschmidt himself left Moscow two weeks after February 24, 2022, because of his refusal to publicly support the SMO and the pressure on his family by the Russian authorities. Rabbi Pinchas nurtured the idea that all his compatriots should leave Russia for almost 9 months.

During this period, Foreign Minister Lavrov spoke out on the Jewish topic, claiming in May 2022 that "Hitler was also of Jewish descent, so this does not mean anything yet." "We have long heard the wise Jewish people say that the biggest anti-Semites are the Jews themselves," Lavrov added in an interview with Italy's Rete 4.

Also in October 2022, Alexei Pavlovich, Assistant Secretary of the Russian Security Council, added Lubavichivsk Hasidism to his article about "new pagan cults" in Ukraine. The Russian official called it a "sect" and stated that the main principle of its supporters is "superiority over all nations and peoples."

As we can see, each of these statements was not made by marginalized Russian experts. But now the "heavy artillery" is being used. Vladimir Putin again mentioned the Jewish origin of the Ukrainian president. He said that "Western curators have put an ethnic Jew at the head of modern Ukraine" in order to "cover up the anti-human nature" of Ukraine. "This makes the situation extremely disgusting, that an ethnic Jew is covering up the glorification of Nazism and those who once led the Holocaust in Ukraine," Putin claimed. He added that "ordinary citizens of Israel understand this best of all" and suggested that they "see what they say about it on the Internet."

In June, Putin said that he had Jewish friends who did not like the Ukrainian president. "I have many Jewish friends from childhood. They say that Zelensky is not a Jew, he is a disgrace to the Jewish people. This is no joke, no irony," Putin said on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg Economic Forum. And it is indeed not a joke or irony: as you know, every anti-Semite must have his or her obligatory "Jewish friend." But at the same time, these often mythical Jews should not create dissonance with their personal anti-Semites.

Putin's relationship with Jews is not good. They mostly write and do things that the Kremlin dictator does not like. For example, on September 6, the day of the terrorist attack on the market in Konstantinovka that killed 17 people, Israeli Ambassador to Russia Alexander Ben Zvi signed an agreement with the Russian Ministry of Culture on cooperation in the field of joint film production.

The Israeli authorities did not publicize this agreement in any way, not even a press release in Hebrew. And there would have been no publicity even among local filmmakers and actors if it hadn't been for the personal telegram channel of Russian Minister of Culture Olga Lyubimova, who couldn't hold her water and quickly told everyone about the "long-awaited agreement."

The backdrop for her is not very good: the same "ordinary Jews" have just left the famous Lenin Komsomol Theater in Moscow without a single penny from a tour to Israel. Leninsky Komsomol has long since disappeared, the director Mark Zakharov is gone, Yevhen Leonov has also died almost thirty years ago, and the "Mark Zakharov Lenkom" Theater still exists. But some unknown sponsors have found money for the theater, which transports "vehicles for the Russian army and the SMO [so-called "special military operation"]," to travel to Israel.

Over the past year and a half, Olga Buzova, Elena Vaenga, Grigory Leps, Philip Kirkorov, Alexander Rosenbaum, Vyacheslav Butusov, and the RASA duo have been unable to travel to Israel under pressure from "ordinary Jews." Now the public is gathering strength for the "Russian Ballet's" tour scheduled for February 2024 under the direction of People's Artist of the USSR Vyacheslav Gordeyev. The latter once celebrated the annexation of Crimea, and now he will definitely not make it to Jerusalem. But all of these "stars" together will not tarnish the memory of "Mark Zakharov's Lenkom", because it responded in a big way: an open letter "from the actors" was shared not on the theater's website but in the main official media outlet of the Russian government: "Rossiyskaya Gazeta."

The following was very "nice" towards Israeli citizens from representatives of the "great Russian culture": "The Israeli 'Ivans who do not remember their ancestry' writhing in powerless anger, depicting victorious jubilation, have only once again demonstrated the unsightly appearance of the 'defenders of Ukraine', sitting on the necks of the states of various countries."

According to recent polls, 76% of the Israeli population supported Ukraine after the great invasion, while only 10% supported Russia. Among voters of right-wing parties, support for Russia was the highest, but no more than 13%. The electorate of the center-left and left-wing parties clearly took the side of Ukraine - 87% and 90%, respectively.

The government of Benjamin Netanyahu is painfully balancing between its voters, Iran, Russia, Ukraine, and the United States. On September 6, an agreement was signed with Russia, and on September 7, Netanyahu called Zelensky to discuss the safety of Hasidic pilgrims in Uman. The same ones that Russia considers a "sect" that advocates "superiority over all nations and peoples."

The Israeli government, in turn, is simultaneously calling on Hasidim to refrain from traveling to Ukraine, but is allocating 4 million shekels to help religious travelers.

And while the Israeli authorities are looking back at Putin, the Jews are not forgotten in Russia. "The Officers of Russia" organization is demanding a ban on the distribution of the British film "Gold. Judgment Day". The film will be checked for "incitement to ethnic hatred": Gold Meir mentions Ukraine in 1918, and from the point of view of the Officers and Vladimir Putin, Ukraine did not exist at that time.

Israel is the only country in the world that has increased the number of flights to Russia after the Russian full-scale invasion-they are already taking their own out. Meanwhile, in July 2022, the Russian Ministry of Justice made its first attempt to liquidate the Jewish agency "Sohnut" in the country. In fact, Moscow can either close down "Sohnut" or give Iran modern SU-35 aircraft: either step would be fatal to relations with Israel.

Everything is teetering on the edge of an abyss, and it is only a matter of time before Russian state anti-Semitism comes to full speed.

Center for Strategic Communications and Information Security

While citing and using any materials on the Internet, links to the website ukrinform.net not lower than the first paragraph are mandatory. In addition, citing the translated materials of foreign media outlets is possible only if there is a link to the website ukrinform.net and the website of a foreign media outlet. Materials marked as "Advertisement" or with a disclaimer reading "The material has been posted in accordance with Part 3 of Article 9 of the Law of Ukraine "On Advertising" No. 270/96-VR of July 3, 1996 and the Law of Ukraine "On the Media" No. 2849-Х of March 31, 2023 and on the basis of an agreement/invoice.

© 2015-2024 Ukrinform. All rights reserved.

Extended searchHide extended search
By period: