After Three Decades of Relative Security, Something Has Changed for Russian Jews

Writing of Vladimir Putin’s “warm and conciliatory gestures” toward the Jewish state in 2016, Arthur Herman noted that “Israel was the first foreign country he visited after his re-accession to the Russian presidency in 2012, going so far as to don a kippah on his visit to the Western Wall in the company of Berel Lazar, Russia’s chief rabbi.” Such behavior would have been unimaginable from any of the tsars or party secretaries who preceded Putin. But now, with increasing chilliness between Moscow and Jerusalem and the Russian government’s attempt to close the Jewish Agency, something seems to have changed. Avital Chizhik-Goldschmidt—whose father-in-law, the chief rabbi of Moscow, recently fled the country because of his criticism of the war on Ukraine—comments:

Since the Soviet collapse in 1991, synagogues, schools, youth groups, and Jewish-owned businesses in Moscow had flourished. In 2007, Putin famously donated a month’s salary to the glitzy Moscow Museum of Tolerance, and the FSB (formerly the KGB) offered its support to the museum by providing documents from its archives. In recent years, a Jew wearing a yarmulke would have felt more comfortable walking in Moscow than in Paris.

For two decades, the Russian president has cultivated an image of himself as the philo-Semite-in-chief. . . . There was a reason for this: as long as you had the Jews in your corner, you couldn’t be a fascist. And being anti-fascist was central to the story that the Soviets, and now the Russians, tell about themselves. Just ask anyone who’s spent Victory Day in Moscow. It masked Russia’s own, darker, fascistic impulses—which we are now seeing play out in Ukraine.

But now the charade is up. . . . In May, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov insisted that Hitler had “Jewish blood.” In June, the television anchor Vladimir Solovyev took to Russia’s Channel 1, which is really a Kremlin media organ, to warn of Russian-speaking “traitors” who “have some relation to the Jewish people.” “You sold out our people long ago, when you decided to serve those who are reviving Nazi ideas in Europe,” Solovyev said.

Since [the renewal of fighting with Ukraine in February], more Jews have emigrated from Russia to Israel than they have from Ukraine.

In a recent interview, Chizhik-Goldschmidt’s father-in-law, Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, stated bluntly, “I reached the realization that today, from every perspective, it’s better for Jews not to be in Russia.”

Read more at Common Sense

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

Hizballah Is Learning Israel’s Weak Spots

On Tuesday, a Hizballah drone attack injured three people in northern Israel. The next day, another attack, targeting an IDF base, injured eighteen people, six of them seriously, in Arab al-Amshe, also in the north. This second attack involved the simultaneous use of drones carrying explosives and guided antitank missiles. In both cases, the defensive systems that performed so successfully last weekend failed to stop the drones and missiles. Ron Ben-Yishai has a straightforward explanation as to why: the Lebanon-backed terrorist group is getting better at evading Israel defenses. He explains the three basis systems used to pilot these unmanned aircraft, and their practical effects:

These systems allow drones to act similarly to fighter jets, using “dead zones”—areas not visible to radar or other optical detection—to approach targets. They fly low initially, then ascend just before crashing and detonating on the target. The terrain of southern Lebanon is particularly conducive to such attacks.

But this requires skills that the terror group has honed over months of fighting against Israel. The latest attacks involved a large drone capable of carrying over 50 kg (110 lbs.) of explosives. The terrorists have likely analyzed Israel’s alert and interception systems, recognizing that shooting down their drones requires early detection to allow sufficient time for launching interceptors.

The IDF tries to detect any incoming drones on its radar, as it had done prior to the war. Despite Hizballah’s learning curve, the IDF’s technological edge offers an advantage. However, the military must recognize that any measure it takes is quickly observed and analyzed, and even the most effective defenses can be incomplete. The terrain near the Lebanon-Israel border continues to pose a challenge, necessitating technological solutions and significant financial investment.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Hizballah, Iron Dome, Israeli Security