A Ukrainian Exodus to Zion

In 2020, Matti Friedman described the effects of the massive influx of Jews to Israel from the Soviet Union after its collapse. Little could anyone know then that, less than two years later, there would be another wave of immigrants from the same area:

Israelis are as glued to the war in Ukraine as the rest of the Western world, so involved in the extraordinary course of events that most of us haven’t yet considered the most immediate way this is going to manifest itself here: in a new wave of aliyah, “ascent,” the word we like to use for immigration. On Sunday three planes landed with 300 people, and it’s only beginning. Some estimates say 10,000 are coming, some say ten times that; some, like the interior minister, say it could be hundreds of thousands and won’t be limited to people from Ukraine.

The old Zionist absorption machinery—ignored by nearly all Israelis nearly all of the time, though it’s more or less the reason the country exists and the reason we’re all here—is creaking back into motion. Israel will try to work its narrative magic, issuing the newcomers a story of strength that obscures their weakness, telling them they’re not homeless but home and that they’re not refugees but olim, “those who ascend,” masters of their own fate. This story is one of the secrets of the country’s success. A version of it is shared by [the] Germans, the Moroccans and Tunisians, the Romanians, the earlier Russians and Ukrainians, the Ethiopians.

At the beginning of the war the [Jewish Agency] opened an emergency hotline run out of the organization’s venerable Jerusalem headquarters. . . . More than 6,000 people called the hotline from Ukraine in the first 72 hours. Most wanted to ask about immigration. It’s not just Ukraine. The same hotline has fielded several thousand immigration inquiries from people in Russia proper, and in the Russian satellite of Belarus. Russia’s economy could sink.

In the end, the last wave of immigrants from places like Odessa and Chernivtsi changed Israel for good, and for the better—the country we have is unimaginable without them. [Now], the last wave is here to absorb the next one.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Aliyah, Ukrainian Jews, War in Ukraine

 

The New Iran Deal Will Reward Terrorism, Help Russia, and Get Nothing in Return

After many months of negotiations, Washington and Tehran—thanks to Russian mediation—appear close to renewing the 2015 agreement concerning the Iranian nuclear program. Richard Goldberg comments:

Under a new deal, Iran would receive $275 billion of sanctions relief in the first year and $1 trillion by 2030. [Moreover], Tehran would face no changes in the old deal’s sunset clauses—that is, expiration dates on key restrictions—and would be allowed to keep its newly deployed arsenal of advanced uranium centrifuges in storage, guaranteeing the regime the ability to cross the nuclear threshold at any time of its choosing. . . . And worst of all, Iran would win all these concessions while actively plotting to assassinate former U.S. officials like John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, and [his] adviser Brian Hook, and trying to kidnap and kill the Iranian-American journalist Masih Alinejad on U.S. soil.

Moscow, meanwhile, would receive billions of dollars to construct additional nuclear power plants in Iran, and potentially more for storage of nuclear material. . . . Following a visit by the Russian president Vladimir Putin to Tehran last month, Iran reportedly started transferring armed drones for Russian use against Ukraine. On Tuesday, Putin launched an Iranian satellite into orbit reportedly on the condition that Moscow can task it to support Russian operations in Ukraine.

With American and European sanctions on Russia escalating, particularly with respect to Russian energy sales, Putin may finally see net value in the U.S. lifting of sanctions on Iran’s financial and commercial sectors. While the return of Iranian crude to the global market could lead to a modest reduction in oil prices, thereby reducing Putin’s revenue, Russia may be able to head off U.S. secondary sanctions by routing key transactions through Tehran. After all, what would the Biden administration do if Iran allowed Russia to use its major banks and companies to bypass Western sanctions?

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Read more at Dispatch

More about: Iran nuclear deal, Russia, U.S. Foreign policy