Reeling from Its Battlefield Defeats, Russia Returns to Anti-Semitism

The Russian president Vladimir Putin has long cultivated an image of himself as friendly to the Jews and, put in the perspective of Russian and Soviet history, there has been very little state-condoned anti-Semitism during his tenure in office. Until recently, that is. Cnaan Liphshiz writes:

Now, as Russia’s war effort in Ukraine founders, openly anti-Jewish rhetoric is entering the country’s mainstream media, with a popular talk-show host naming Jews on air as being insufficiently patriotic and a think-tank accusing a prominent Jewish philosopher of siding with Ukraine out of greed.

The shift in rhetoric about Jews in Russian media began about two months ago, according to Roman Bronfman, a former Israeli lawmaker who is writing a book about post-Soviet Jewry. That was around when news emerged that Ukrainian troops had successfully stopped the advance of Russian forces on Ukrainian territory; since then, they have repelled Russian troops from some areas the Russians had captured.

In recent weeks, the rhetoric appears to be accelerating. In a September 18 article in Moskovskii Komsomolets, a highbrow Russian daily, a senior and veteran writer named Dmitry Popov compiled a list of well-known Jews whom he called “foreign agents,” a term that the Russian government frequently applies to its perceived enemies. He added sarcastically that the Jews might one day form a government in “the beautiful Russia of the future”—ostensibly after Putin exits office.

Read more at JTA

More about: Anti-Semitism, Russia, Russian Jewry, Vladimir Putin, War in Ukraine

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