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

Israel’s Retaliation against the Houthis Sends a Message to the U.S., and to Its Arab Allies

The drone that struck a Tel Aviv high-rise on Thursday night is believed to have traveled over 2,000 kilometers, flying from Yemen over Egypt and then above the Mediterranean before veering eastward toward the Israeli coast. Since October, the Houthis have launched over 200 drones at Israel. Nor is this the first attempt to strike Tel Aviv, only the first successful one. Noah Rothman observes that the Houthis’ persistent attacks on Israel and on international shipping are largely the result of the U.S.-led coalition’s anemic response:

Had the Biden administration taken a more proactive and vigorous approach to neutralizing the Houthis’ capabilities, Israel would not be obliged to expand to Yemen the theater of operations in the war Hamas inaugurated on October 7. The prospects of a regional war grow larger by the day, not because Israel cannot “take the win,” as President Biden reportedly told Benjamin Netanyahu following a full-scale direct Iranian attack on the Jewish state, but because hostile foreign actors are killing its citizens. Jerusalem is obliged to defend them and the sovereignty of Israel’s borders.

Biden’s hesitancy was fueled by his apprehension over the prospect of a “wider war” in the Middle East. But his hesitancy is what is going to give him the war he so cravenly sought to avoid.

In this context, the nature of the Israeli response is significant: rather than follow the American strategy of striking isolated weapons depots and the like, IDF jets struck the port city of Hodeida—the sort of major target the U.S. has shied away from. The mission was likely the furthest-ever carried out by the Israel Air Force, hitting a site 200 kilometers further from Israel than Tehran. Yoel Guzansky and Ilan Zalayat comment:

The message that Israel sent was intended to reach the moderate Arab countries, the West, and especially the United States. . . . The message to the coalition countries is that “the containment” had failed and the Houthis must be hit harder. The Hodeida port is the lifeline of the Houthi economy and continued damage to it will make it extremely difficult for this economy, which is also facing significant American sanctions.

Read more at National Review

More about: Houthis, Israeli Security, U.S. Foreign policy