The Future of Russia and the Fate of Its Jews

Having grown up in the Soviet Union, Yevgenia Albats became a journalist and pro-democracy activist after the fall of Communism, and has also been involved in Jewish communal affairs. She is currently editor-in-chief of the New Times, one of Russia’s major opposition magazines. In an interview with Cathy Young, she recalls the anti-Semitism she faced as a child:

[E]veryday anti-Semitism was incredibly widespread in the Soviet Union. In Moscow, and anywhere [else], it was very easy to [hear the slur] zhidovskaya morda, [ “kikeface”] thrown at you. When we rode the tram or bus to school—my sister and I and another Jewish friend—we had a habit of looking around and finding the Jews. . . . They were people from whom we could expect protection. Why? Because one day when I was about nine, my sister and I were coming home from school and several girls in the yard of our building, who had been our playmates, jumped us and ripped off our Young Pioneer scarves, [symbolizing membership in the Communist-party youth movement], shouting, “You Yids have no right to wear Pioneer scarves.”

Years later, . . . I realized that it was the year of the Six-Day War. The Soviet Union had severed diplomatic relations with Israel, and the newspapers were full of talk about those evil Zionists. And there was, of course, a massive tide of anti-Semitism.

Nowadays, Albats comments, Jews seem safer in Moscow than in much of Western Europe. But she is concerned by the prominence of former KGB officers (whom she refers to as chekists, after the organization’s precursor) in the current government:

Of course, anti-Semitism was a very strong component of the KGB’s ideology. For the KGB, the Jews were a fifth column because they were people who finished Soviet universities and then took off for their “historical home,” always ready to sell out the Motherland. But today, until such time as the state signs off on it, this is going to be fairly muted.

Putin is not an anti-Semite; this is a known fact. But [some of his top allies] are. [T]he chekists devoutly believe in a global Jewish conspiracy and a world Jewish government. When they searched the offices of our magazine [in 2007 or 2008], the colonel who was in charge said to me, “I realize, Yevgenia Markovna, that you’re going to get the entire Jewish world on its feet. We know [Edgar] Bronfman is a friend of yours.” I may have met Bronfman twice in my life. But I never try to disabuse them of this notion. I tell them, “Yes, we run the world.” Let them believe it.

Unless there is a major change in the nature of the Russian regime, Albats believes that a resurgence of state-sponsored anti-Semitism is inevitable.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Anti-Semitism, KGB, Russian Jewry, Soviet Jewry, Vladimir Putin

The IDF’s First Investigation of Its Conduct on October 7 Is Out

For several months, the Israel Defense Forces has been investigating its own actions on and preparedness for October 7, with an eye to understanding its failures. The first of what are expected to be many reports stemming from this investigation was released yesterday, and it showed a series of colossal strategic and tactical errors surrounding the battle at Kibbutz Be’eri, writes Emanuel Fabian. The probe, he reports, was led by Maj. Gen. (res.) Mickey Edelstein.

Edelstein and his team—none of whom had any involvement in the events themselves, according to the IDF—spent hundreds of hours investigating the onslaught and battle at Be’eri, reviewing every possible source of information, from residents’ WhatsApp messages to both Israeli and Hamas radio communications, as well as surveillance videos, aerial footage, interviews of survivors and those who fought, plus visits to the scene.

There will be a series of further reports issued this summer.

IDF chief Halevi in a statement issued alongside the probe said that while this was just the first investigation into the onslaught, which does not reflect the entire picture of October 7, it “clearly illustrates the magnitude of the failure and the dimensions of the disaster that befell the residents of the south who protected their families with their bodies for many hours, and the IDF was not there to protect them.” . . .

The IDF hopes to present all battle investigations by the end of August.

The IDF’s probes are strictly limited to its own conduct. For a broader look at what went wrong, Israel will have to wait for a formal state commission of inquiry to be appointed—which happens to be the subject of this month’s featured essay in Mosaic.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza War 2023, IDF, Israel & Zionism, October 7