by Ludwig Watzal
Is there a Russian Israeli friendship looming on the horizon that could replace the „ironclad“ one with the United States of America? The Zionist Israeli diplomacy is considered one of the best and most skillful in the world. It’s based solely on the national interest of the State of Israel and is contrary to the morally based insincere rhetoric of the US, not to speak of the hypocritical talk of its European „friends“, including Germany.
So far, the Israeli government hasn’t criticized Russia for its „occupation“ and „annexation“ of Crimea, as have its so-called Western friends been doing. Israel does not either participate in the Western sanctions against Russia. They do business as usual, and it’s increasing rapidly. Could perhaps a call by Chancellor Angela Merkel change Binyamin Netanyahu’s mind? Politically, this is unlikely. Netanyahu doesn’t listen to US President Barack Obama. On the contrary, he does everything possible to obstruct Obama’s policy. Why then should he be listening to Germany’s Merkel. Israel is not a banana republic. Thanks to Germany’s generosity, the country has several German-built submarines equipped with nuclear warheads to guarantee Israel a second strike capability, not against the virtual „Iranian existential threat“ but against a possible „Western threat“. Should the European Union one day decide to impose sanctions against Israel because of its enduring occupation of Palestinian land, the Israeli government might consider this as an unfriendly act and a „real“ existential threat.
There are one million Russians living in Israel. Their „boss“ is foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman, the head of the right-wing Russian party „Yisrael Beiteinu“ (Israel Our Home). Lieberman is on very good terms with Putin. The Russian Jews live mostly apart from their Israeli compatriots. They speak Russian, have their own Russian newspapers, eat pork, drink vodka and care a fig about the Halacha. They have been brought up under communism and have problems even to adjust to the Israeli version of democracy. The great majority of them are staunchly anti-Palestinian and hate Muslims.
The West seems to forget that the Soviet Union was the first UN Member State to recognize the State of Israel and voted against the resolution of the UN General Assembly 194 that called for the return of the refugees to their homeland if they were willing to live in peace with their neighbors. Beyond that, the Soviet Union via Czechoslovakia supplied Zionist forces with arms (tanks, combat planes, weapons and ammunition) that contributed substantially to the victory over the Arab armies in the war of 1947/1948. From the Six Day War until 1991 the Soviet Union and Israel had no diplomatic relationship because the Soviet Union supported the PLO. With the mass emigration of Russian Jews to Israel the relations improved.
Are there other reasons for the deep connection between Israel and Russia? The Canadian Professor of History, Yakov M. Rabkin, gives a possible explanation for the „love affair“ between the Israeli and Russian occupiers in his ground-breaking book „A Threat from Within. A Century of Jewish Opposition to Zionism“: It is the common Russian background, writes Rabkin. Russian Jews not only made up a majority of the founders of the State of Israel, „they also became the most influential group within its military elite. The man who did more than any other Zionist to introduce terror into Palestine was the Russian Avraham Stern, a member of several paramilitary groupings.“ Rabkin writes that Moshe Dayan, Ezer Weizmann, Yitzhak Rabin, Rehavam Zeevi, Raphael Eitan and Ariel Sharon were all descendants of Russian Jews, „whose propensity for the use of force can only be linked to their estrangement from Jewish tradition“. Quoting Martin Gilbert, Rabkin writes that twelve years after the founding of Israel and despite the almost total prohibition of emigration from the Soviet Union for more than four decades, over 70 percent of the members of Israel’s political elite – as represented in the Knesset – were Russian-born, while 13 percent were born in Palestine/Israel of Russian parents. „The American Zionist elites, whose support was crucial for Zionism´s success, were also composed primarily of Jews of Russian origin … Even in Morocco, Zionist ideas and activities were introduced almost exclusively by Russian Jews.“ The Israeli right-wing parties, which draw much of their support from voters of Russian background, „bear out the Russian dimension of the Zionist enterprise“. The best example is Avigdor Lieberman who lives in an illegal Israeli settlement in the occupied territories.
Although Russia supports and supplies Israel’s „enemies“, Syria and Iran, the military and technological cooperation between Russia and Israel is very intense. Despite US an EU sanctions, Israel increases its agricultural exports to Russia. Israel and its Russian population follow very closely antisemitic trends in Ukraine and the rise of neo-Fascist forces within the higher echelons of the Ukrainian leadership. The Israeli government has never criticized Russia’s brutal crackdown in Chechnya, Caucasus or Georgia, because Russia behaved for a short time the way Israel behaves all the time in Palestine. Although President Putin supports the Palestinians rhetorically and his country belongs to the politically lame Middle East Quartet, he has seldom condemned Israel’s occupation.
President Putin has long abandoned the former Soviet Union’s „anti-Zionist and anti-imperialist“ rhetoric. In June 2012 he visited the inauguration of the national Victory Monument in the coastal town of Netanya honoring the soldiers of the Soviet Union who fought against Nazi Germany during World War II. Putin in June and July 2014 declared his support for the struggle of Israel in its attempts to protect its citizens. In June 2014 Putin and Netanyahu established a special hotline connecting their two offices. To the surprise of its Western „friends“, Israel abstained from a resolution of the UN General Assembly condemning Russia’s occupation of Crimea and disrupting the unity of Ukraine.
As a reminder for Israel’s Western friends and Russia’s adversaries: Both countries pursue only their national interests. Russia does everything to have good relations to other countries, especially to the Middle and the Far East. The same holds true for Israel. But the US Empire tries to thwart these relations.