In Russia, Anti-Semitism Makes a Comeback

Although Vladimir Putin has aligned himself with a nationalist and authoritarian Russian political tradition that more often than not has been entangled with anti-Semitism, and has also sought to repair the reputation of Communist anti-Semites like Stalin, he has shown few if any indications of personal animus toward Jews. To the contrary, he has made a point of cultivating good relations with Jewish leaders where possible. But since the war with Ukraine began in 2014, state-sponsored anti-Semitism has begun to reemerge from the margins. Ben Cohen discusses this resurgence with the historian Ksenia Krimer:

Jews are [often] presented [by state-sponsored media] as exercising a sinister, unaccountable power. Krimer quoted [the] instance, . . . from 2016, when Maria Zakharova—now the spokesperson for the Russian foreign ministry—declared on a TV chat show that to understand why Donald Trump won the election that year, “you have to talk to the Jews, naturally.” Adopting a faux Brooklyn accent, she added: “They told me: ‘Marochka [a Russian diminutive for Maria], you understand, of course, we’ll donate to [Hillary] Clinton. But we’ll donate twice as much to the Republicans.’ That was it! The matter was settled, for me personally.”

The host of that show, the Kremlin loyalist Vladimir Solovyov, has continued to push anti-Semitic themes in his output, Krimer said. In one episode following the March 2022 massacre of hundreds of civilians by Russian forces in the Ukrainian city of Bucha, Solovyov—who acknowledges his Jewish origins and has even accused Ukrainian “neo-Nazis” of trying to assassinate him—nevertheless ranted against journalists and pundits with Jewish names, [calling them] agents of “Russophobia” who had failed to show genuine gratitude to the Russian liberators of Nazi concentration camps in the closing stages of World War II.

A soldier’s manual published in October 2022 with the approval of the Russian Ministry of Defense attempted to justify the invasion to those tasked with carrying it out by claiming that “all power [in Ukraine] is concentrated in the hands of citizens of Israel, the United States, and the United Kingdom. They orchestrated the genocide of the native inhabitants. . . . Today, all of us, Russian Orthodox and Muslims, Buddhists and shamanists, are fighting against Ukrainian nationalism and the global Satanism that supports it.”

Read more at Algemeiner

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

Recognizing a Palestinian State Won’t Help Palestinians, or Even Make Palestinian Statehood More Likely

While Shira Efron and Michael Koplow are more sanguine about the possibility of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and more critical of Israel’s policies in the West Bank, than I am, I found much worth considering in their recent article on the condition of the Palestinian Authority (PA). Particularly perceptive are their comments on the drive to grant diplomatic recognition to a fictive Palestinian state, a step taken by nine countries in the past few months, and almost as many in total as recognize Israel.

Efron and Koplow argue that this move isn’t a mere empty gesture, but one that would actually make things worse, while providing “no tangible benefits for Palestinians.”

In areas under its direct control—Areas A and B of the West Bank, comprising 40 percent of the territory—the PA struggles severely to provide services, livelihoods, and dignity to inhabitants. This is only partly due to its budgetary woes; it has also never established a properly functioning West Bank economy. President Mahmoud Abbas, who will turn ninety next year, administers the PA almost exclusively by executive decrees, with little transparency or oversight. Security is a particular problem, as militants from different factions now openly defy the underfunded and undermotivated PA security forces in cities such as Jenin, Nablus, and Tulkarm.

Turning the Palestinian Authority (PA) from a transitional authority into a permanent state with the stroke of a pen will not make [its] litany of problems go away. The risk that the state of Palestine would become a failed state is very real given the PA’s dysfunctional, insolvent status and its dearth of public legitimacy. Further declines in its ability to provide social services and maintain law and order could yield a situation in which warlords and gangs become de-facto rulers in some areas of the West Bank.

Otherwise, any steps toward realizing two states will be fanciful, built atop a crumbling foundation—and likely to help turn the West Bank into a third front in the current war.

Read more at Foreign Affairs

More about: Palestinian Authority, Palestinian statehood