The Soviet Union Is Gone, but Its Anti-Zionist Campaign Lives On

The speedy defeat of Soviet-backed Syrian and Egyptian forces by the U.S.-aligned state of Israel in 1967 led the Kremlin to encourage its various propaganda arms to focus more intently on anti-Zionism. Izabella Tabarovsky describes this turn, and its long-lasting effects:

On February 1, 1972, the Central Committee of the Communist party of the Soviet Union issued a directive “on further measures to fight anti-Soviet and anti-Communist activities of international Zionism.” The social-sciences section of the Soviet Academy of Sciences soon established a permanent commission for the coordination of “scientific criticism of Zionism,” to be housed at the academy’s prestigious Institute of Oriental Studies (IOS). Over the next fifteen years, the IOS would serve as an important partner in the state’s fight against the imaginary global Zionist conspiracy that Soviet security services believed was sabotaging the USSR in the international arena and at home. In 1982, the IOS would grant [a doctorate] to one Mahmoud Abbas, upon the defense of his thesis The Relationship Between Zionists and Nazis, 1933-1945.

The IOS—now part of the Russian Academy of Sciences—keeps the dissertation under lock and key, and the closest item available to researchers is a nineteen-page Russian-language abstract. From this document, it is clear that the dissertation consists of familiar lies, half-truths, and distortions about imagined Nazi-Zionist collaboration, with a sprinkle of Holocaust denial thrown in—mostly borrowed from the USSR’s “Zionologists.” Tabarovsky writes:

Fabrications about Israel and Zionism that the KGB concocted with the help of the Arabists and Zionologists in the academy had real-life consequences that [are still felt] today. Having washed through the academy the hoax about the Mossad smuggling Jews into Palestine in the 1930s, [it didn’t exist at the time], the KGB could claim that the Mossad was also behind Soviet Jews’ demand for emigration in the 1970s and 1980s. Jewish activists like Natan Sharansky could be portrayed as foreign intelligence assets—an accusation that carried a death sentence. The Soviet academy’s “scientific anti-Zionism” project facilitated and promoted state-sponsored anti-Semitism. Abbas’s dissertation was part of that game.

Today, portions of the American academy, led by Middle East studies departments, are falling prey to remarkably similar ideological tendencies. Anti-Israel boycotts, often expressed in recognizably Soviet language, have become normalized on American campuses. . . . Mahmoud Abbas’s dissertation may be hidden away in IOS’s special storage facility, but the old Soviet fakes on which it was based continue to circulate widely among Middle Eastern audiences.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Anti-Semitism, Anti-Zionism, Israel on campus, Mahmoud Abbas, Refuseniks, Soviet Union

An Israeli Buffer Zone in the Gaza Strip Doesn’t Violate International Law

 The IDF announced on Thursday that it is safe for residents to return to some of the towns and villages near the Gaza Strip that have been abandoned since October 7. Yet on the same day, rocket sirens sounded in one of those communities, Kibbutz Mefalsim. To help ensure security in the area, Israel is considering the creation of a buffer zone within the Strip that would be closed to Palestinian civilians and buildings. The U.S. has indicated, however, that it would not look favorably on such a step.

Avraham Shalev explains why it’s necessary:

The creation of a security buffer along the Gaza-Israel border serves the purpose of destroying Hamas’s infrastructure and eliminating the threat to Israel. . . . Some Palestinian structures are practically on the border, and only several hundred yards away from Israeli communities such as Kfar Aza, Kerem Shalom, and Sderot. The Palestinian terrorists that carried out the murderous October 7 attacks crossed into Israel from many of these border-adjacent areas. Hamas officials have already vowed that “we will do this again and again. The al-Aqsa Flood [the October 7th massacre] is just the first time, and there will be a second, a third, a fourth.”

In 2018 and 2019, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad organized mass marches towards the Israeli border with the goal of breaking into Israel. Billed by Palestinians as “the Great March of Return,” its name reveals its purpose—invasion. Although the marches were supposedly non-violent, they featured largescale attacks on Israeli forces as well as arson and damage to Israeli agriculture and civilian communities. Moreover, the October 7 massacre was made possible by Hamas’s prepositioning military hardware along the border under false cover of civilian activity. The security perimeter is intended to prevent a reprise of these events.

Shalev goes on to dismantle the arguments put forth about why international law prohibits Israel from creating the buffer zone. He notes:

By way of comparison, following the defeat of Nazi Germany, France occupied the Saar [River Valley] directly until 1947 and then indirectly until reintegration with Germany in 1957, and the Allied occupation of Berlin continued until the reunification of Germany in 1990. The Allies maintained their occupation long after the fall of the Nazi regime, due to the threat of Soviet invasion and conquest of West Berlin, and by extension Western Europe.

Read more at Kohelet

More about: Gaza Strip, Gaza War 2023, International Law, Israeli Security