Russia uses its leverage in the Arab world to aid Israel where it can feasibly do so.

Posted by Kumiko Oumae on Friday, 10 June 2016 00:48.

Times of Israel, ‘Ties with Israel have never been closer, says Russian chief rabbi’, 08 Jun 2016 (emphasis added):

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks with Russia's Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar in the Jewish Museum in Moscow, Thursday, June 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks with Russia’s Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar in the Jewish Museum in Moscow, Thursday, June 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

MOSCOW – Israeli-Russian relations are reaching unprecedented heights, Russia’s chief rabbi said Tuesday, positing that the countries are rapidly improving ties because they are each “snubbed” by the international community.

“There’s never been a time when the ties were so close,” Rabbi Berel Lazar told The Times of Israel. “There’s no question that if you think back 40, 50 years — even 25 years ago when the relations started, it was still very cold. Israel was taboo. I remember those days when we dreamed of the Russian president visiting Israel; it was something nobody thought would be possible.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Moscow this week for his fourth meeting with President Vladimir Putin in less than 12 months. The Israeli leader was received with many official honors, a welcome he called “exceptional.”

Lazar, who was born in Italy, received his rabbinic ordination in the US and has been serving as Russia’s chief rabbi since 2000, is scheduled to meet Netanyahu Wednesday morning together with other senior leaders of the local Jewish community.

The improving ties between Moscow and Jerusalem can, in part, be attributed to the common experience of terrorism but also to shared cultural and economic goals, Lazar said.

“It’s also because today Russia is being snubbed by others, and Israel is more or less in same situation, they found each other,” he said. “Some countries in the world like to feel they’re the policemen of the world. They’re the ones to tell Russia and Israel what they should do. I think the time has come for world leaders to sit around the table and understand we’re all equal. There shouldn’t be different standards for different countries. You can’t expect from Israel more than from any other country.”

Said to be close to Putin, Lazar — who belongs to the Chabad Lubavitch Hasidic movement — is sometimes criticized as too uncritical of the Kremlin’s policies.

While Moscow does not seek to replace the United States’ as Jerusalem’s most important ally, Netanyahu is taking a “risk” by getting closer to Putin, the chief rabbi surmised.

“Israel has a simple message: we don’t put all our eggs in one basket. We don’t rely only on America. There are a lot of other countries in the world, Russia is one of them, and we’re going to build a relationship with as many countries as possible,” he said.

“In past years, Israel was much closer to the US than to Russia, but that was when America listened to Israel more. And today when America is not listening to Israel and is not realistic about the problems Israel is facing, I think that Israel has all the right to turn to other countries, find more friends and supporters, including Russia.” he added.

“In past years, Israel was much closer to the US than to Russia, but that was when America listened to Israel more. And today when America is not listening to Israel and is not realistic about the problems Israel is facing, I think that Israel has all the right to turn to other countries, find more friends and supporters, including Russia.” he added.

Some countries will not be thrilled about Israel getting closer to Russia and therefore Netanyahu “is taking a risk by coming here” so regularly, he said, adding that he has only been in Washington once in the last year.

The last time an Israeli leader was received in the Russian capital with such honors is over a decade ago, Lazar said.

“It’s really showing the world how much Israel is viewed in a positive way in Russia today. Look at the press in Europe; look at the press in Russia. Look at anti-Semitism in Europe; look at anti-Semitism in Russia. Look at how the president [Putin] is really involved in what’s going on in the Jewish community and how in other places in the world, [the leaders] don’t care about the Jews.”

Despite his lavish praise for Putin, Lazar did not deny that Russia often votes against Israel in international forums and sells weapons to Israel’s enemies in the region.

However, he argued that Moscow considers Israel’s security as “of utmost importance.”

“After every meeting they [Putin and Netanyahu] had in the past, Prime Minister Netanyahu walks out and says, ‘I got enough assurances, I have nothing serious to worry about; we feel Russia really understands our issues and cooperates with us,’” said Lazar.

As opposed to the US and Europe, Russia has friendly relations with some Arab states and Iran, the chief rabbi said. “And sometimes because of these relations [the Russians] have leverage that other countries don’t have. They feel it’s important for them to keep a certain kind of balance.”

The implications of this should be fairly obvious to everyone, and needs no long elaboration. All of this captures the essence of what we at Majorityrights have been trying to warn the pro-Russia crowd about all along.

The Jewish lobby doesn’t place all their eggs in one basket, and Russia’s economic and military connections to the Arab world can always be used as leverage to produce outcomes that are favourable to Israel.

One memorable example of this can be found during the earlier stages of the Syrian conflict in 2013, when John Kerry demanded that the government of Syria must come to the table and agree to surrender its chemical weapons and dissolve its chemical weapons battalions, thus ceding all of the strategic gains against Israel that had been secured through the development and enhancement of those weapons.

People were sceptical as to the enforceability of this demand. After all, couldn’t Syria simply go to Russia and ask to be supplied with the S-300 and some Su-30s, and thus severely decrease the ability of the United States to threaten them?

That was not to be, as Vladimir Putin and Sergei Lavrov would ‘rise’ to Kerry’s challenge of ridding Syria of weapons within a week, by turning around and using their leverage over Syria to force them into accepting the challenge, by refusing to supply Syria with the S-300, and then brokering the handover of all Syria’s chemical weapons to the international community.

Absolutely classic.



Comments:


1

Posted by mancinblack on Sat, 11 Jun 2016 07:09 | #

Putin will start talks to add Israel to the Eurasian Economic Union free trade agreement, according to Haaretz. The Israeli’s had said they wanted a deal as soon as possible in October of last year.


2

Posted by Kumiko Oumae on Sun, 19 Jun 2016 11:21 | #

Can you provide the link for this?


3

Posted by mancinblack on Mon, 20 Jun 2016 17:53 | #

It was on their Twitter, Kumiko. In the first paragraph of this Tabletmag article there’s a link to it.
http://www.tabletmag.com/scroll/204802/why-israel-and-russias-relationship-continues-to-warm


4

Posted by Kumiko Oumae on Tue, 21 Jun 2016 08:19 | #

Thanks for the link, Mancinblack. That’s pretty useful to have.


5

Posted by Army of Jewish billionaires at Putin's side on Tue, 12 Jul 2016 10:42 | #

Jerusalem Post, “At Putin’s side, an army of Jewish billionaires”, 26 June 2012:

When the air-conditioning broke down at the reception for the unveiling ceremony of the Red Army monument in Netanya on Monday, it didn’t matter if you were a billionaire, multimillionaire or broke.

Everyone suffered the same.

In one corner sat Mikhail Fridman, the seventh-richest man in Russia, whose fortune is estimated at $15 billion by Forbes. He stayed hydrated in the sweltering heat by sipping a glass of water.


In another stood Moshe Kantor, the chemicals tycoon who Forbes said was worth $2.3b. He repeatedly removed the beads of sweat from his head with a napkin.

The two men were part of a group of two dozen or so affluent Russian-speaking businessmen who came to the ceremony where President Vladimir Putin was the guest of honor. Some, like Fridman, flew in especially from Russia. Others, like Kantor, drove from nearby Herzliya, where many businessman from the former Soviet Union including Leonid Nevzlin and Gabriel Mirilashvili, to name a few, have made their homes.

For many members of this class of ultra rich Putin’s arrival in the country was an opportunity for them to brush shoulders with one another and to mingle with friends and officials from the motherland. The richest man in the room filled with rich men was probably the media-shy Fridman, who declined to speak to The Jerusalem Post.


“I am a private person,” he said, displaying seemingly good English.

Other faces were more familiar to locals. Lev Leviev, the diamonds and real estate mogul who is a bit of anomaly in this world, was on hand. Although born in Uzbekistan, then part of the Soviet Union, he immigrated to Israel as a teenager in the 1970s and made his money in the Jewish state. Only after the markets in the former Soviet Union opened did the Israeli, whose worth was estimated at about $1.7b. earlier this year, invest extensively in natural resources and property in that part of the world.

Not everybody in the room was a billionaire. Some were worth a mere couple of hundred of million dollars.

Alexander Levin, a Ukrainian businessman who was among those who donated to build the monument, is one of latter.

The real estate developer, who last year set up the World Forum for Russian Jewry, an advocacy group based in New York, explained why he it was an important cause.

“My two grandparents were killed during World War II so it’s very important to us,” he said. “We are paying just a little [in comparison to what they paid].”

How much is a little? Levin said the exact sum “was not important” but that it was “a lot of money.”

Members of United Israel Appeal-Keren Hayesod, which raised the money to build the marble and concrete monument overlooking the azure Mediterranean Sea, were also tight-lipped.

“We organized a group of 10 to 15 top businessmen who raised the money that helped transform this dream to reality,” said Gadi Dror, the UIA’s director of the eastern region. “We do not go [into the] figures because they [the donors] prefer not to but it is meaningful amount.”

A source later said each businessman had donated at least $100,000.

Watching the group of mega-wealthy interact, one cannot help but wonder how so many affluent businessmen in the former Soviet Union are Jewish.

German Zakharyaev, vice president of the Russian Jewish Congress, cited two main reasons for that. First, Jews are few among many.

“We are a minority and as such we have to be strong [if we are] to preserve our customs,” said the businessman who, as a member of the Mountain Jewish community of the eastern Caucuses, is a minority within a minority.

“This is something in our commandments that we have to keep our Jewishness and be united in the Diaspora.”

Second, he said, Jewish businessmen are hard workers.

“We think a lot and we sleep a little,” he said.



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