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

October 3, 2022 | Cnaan Liphshiz
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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.

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