Measuring Moscow against Israel's 'friends' in the West
Russia is probably not a friend of Israel, but much less dangerous than the West.
“Another Tack: Kremlin or Canossa?” is the name of Sarah Honig’s article in the Jerusalem Post about Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Moscow. I agree with Sarah on everything, almost on everything, to be more precise.
Russia is the ally of deadly enemies of Israel. Senior Russian officials have met with the political leader of Hamas, Moscow cooperates with Teheran and supplies Syria with rockets, knowing quite well that some of these weapons end up in the hands of Hizbullah and Hamas.
It is hardly possible to define the Putin-Medvedev regime as a developed democracy. It is a kind of Byzantine form of government with the democratic facade.
It’s also difficult to “suspect” the Russian Orthodox Church of sympathy for Jews. Pogroms, “Black Hundreds” and the Pale of Settlement for Jews are the same gloomy part of Russian history, as czarism and serfdom. Sarah is really right: the current Moscow policy reminds of the policy of the USSR.
It’s OK. I don’t agree with Sarah only on one point, that Russian foreign policy is unpredictable.
On the contrary, the policy of the Kremlin is absolutely predictable, though such predictability can hardly please us.
In the Middle East, Russia pursues specific political and economic goals. Its political goal is the maximum weakening of the USA and the West influence and regaining superpower status in the Middle East. Israel is the ally of the USA and thereby it becomes the object of Russian intrigue. The economic goal is arms-export profit. Russia is supplying weapons to the world’s worst regimes, including Iran and Syria.
Russians have no sentiments: business is business. Besides, some Russian officials and diplomats (especially the ex-Soviet old guard) tend towards anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism in relations with Israel. These feelings don’t define the political course, but color it.
The policy of the Kremlin is traditional, routine and mercantile. The term “unpredictability” should be used regarding the West, not Russia.
The purposes of the West are not at all clear. What made Barak Obama turn his back on Hosni Mubarak, the closest ally of the USA, at the first sign of danger? What do France, USA and Great Britain hope to achieve in Libya? Do they really believe that current turmoil in the Middle East is democratic revolutions, and the Muslim Brotherhood is not an extremist but secular movement?
What induced them after long years of friendship with Gadhafi to change their opinion radically during one night and decide to topple his regime? Don’t they realize that supporting the insurgents they actually make Hizbullah and Al Qaida stronger and create the second Somalia? Why neither the White House, nor Paris nor London demand the resignation of Assad, the ally of Iran? His regime is not less cruel, than Gadhafi’s. How can Obama’s demand of resignation of Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh — the sworn enemy of Al Qaida — be explained?
The issue of Israel is even more confused. “Friends” of Israel in the West demand that Israel retreat to the borders of 1967, which Abba Eban once called “Auschwitz borders”. Who demanded to stop building in Judea and Samaria as preconditions to negotiations? Putin? No, Obama.
Who broke the international conventions, recognized the independence of Kosovo, and is now going to recognize Palestinian independence? Is it the Kremlin? No, it’s Washington, Paris and London. Who is so indignant about humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza? They are Baroness Ashton, David Cameron, Nicolas Sarkozy, Samantha Power, and other Western politicians. Where is the demonization of Israel in full swing? In Russia? No, in European capitals, and liberal circles in the USA.
Calls for boycott of Israel don’t come from Russian trade unions, scientists, politicians, or journalists. This campaign comes from London and Paris, Brussels and Stockholm, Ottawa and Los Angeles, Madrid and Oslo. Russian composers, actors and writers willingly come to Israel, and aren’t afraid to admire the Jewish State.
“I feel Alarm because of the anti-Semitism and anti-Israeli sentiment growing throughout Europe and even further afield”, — wrote Elena Bonner, the widow of great scientist and dissident Andrei Sakharov in 2009.
It’s in the West that one can see massive anti-Israel demonstrations and find a lot of anti-Israeli literature. Anti-Semitism is being energetically spread by the Western mass media that are the second most hostile to Israel after the Arabian ones.
And one more important point: Israel-haters in Russia are marginal nationalists while in the West they are the ruling elite.
You are right: Russia can’t be considered a friend of Israel, but does Israel have friends in the West? I know only one true friend — he is Canada’s PM Stephen Harper. Some states in Eastern Europe sympathize with Israel too, but not the whole of the West.
Thus, I understand the purposes of Russia; they are quite clear, contrary to the purposes of the West. The actions of Russia are rational, they are realpolitik, and it is always possible to find a compromise on a practical basis. The actions of the West are unclear and therefore potentially harmful. I think that is the West that poses the real threat to Israel. I am afraid that the West will weaken Israel, and then betray it as it happened to Mubarak and earlier to Iranian Shah.
You are right, Sarah: there were monstrous pogroms in Russia. But after all, the Holocaust came not from Russia. It came from the West.