Jewish Organizations Must Start Saying “No” to Oligarchs’ Money

Last week, the United Kingdom sanctioned eight Russian billionaires, including Moshe (Vyacheslav) Kantor, a Jewish fertilizer magnate who maintains close ties to Vladimir Putin. Kantor has also given generously to Jewish causes, leaving them in what is now an awkward position. Ben Cohen comments:

Among those [Russian] oligarchs of Jewish origin, Kantor is the one most closely associated with Jewish causes, although Roman Abramovich—the best-known oligarch of all—is also a significant player in the Jewish world. Kantor is, among other honorifics, the head of the European Jewish Congress (EJC), a position from which he resigned on April 8; the founder of the Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary Jewry at Tel Aviv University; and a significant donor to the Jewish Leadership Council (JLC) and Community Security Trust (CST) in the United Kingdom, his main residence. His philanthropy has transformed the Jewish world in the fifteen years since he was elected as the EJC’s president.

Jewish organizations should play no part in pushing the narrative of oligarch benevolence. It’s certainly true that our community has benefited from their largesse, but that would not have been possible had Western governments, banks, and investment funds not fallen over themselves to attract the oligarchs’ investments in property, media, marquee sports teams, and other valuable assets in the first place. Moreover, in accepting their hefty donations, Jewish organizations provided oligarchs with an equally valuable service, allowing their names to be associated primarily with philanthropic and charitable works, rather than their murky relations with the dictator in the Kremlin.

That cozy exchange cannot—and should not—survive the war in Ukraine. Jewish organizations exist to serve their communities, not the individuals who fund them.

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Read more at JNS

More about: Jewish community, Philanthropy, 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