Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Posted by Daniel Greenfield 5 Comments
Russia's intentions towards Israel made the news recently when it announced arms sales to Syria and then to Hamas. It continues to provide assistance building up Iran's nuclear capabilities and hours before the US invasion was shipping weapons to Iraqi forces.
But there are less subtle things that don't make the evening news. Putin threw out the democratic reforms of Yeltsin's government and has returned to Russia's old imperialistic policies. The first step was to destroy any independent businessmen not in line with Putin's policies, including those who were associated with independent parties or ran independent television stations or newspapers, or those who merely owned businesses the Putin regime wanted.
This has already been done. The Russian press is under Putin's thumb. Key businesses are under government control now and are being used to control their international customers. Russia's oil and gas industry in particular has been leveraged against the independent Ukrainian government, against Georgia and many other former Soviet Republics to bring them into line. By controlling vast reserves of gas and oil, Russia is turning itself into a kind of Super-OPEC which uses their supply to influence and control other countries.
But it doesn't end with the former Soviet Republics. Americans may not realize it but a large number of their own gas stations may carry American brand names, but are actually owned by Lukoil. There are 1200 such stations now in the New York are alone. Lukoil has bought up Getty Petroleum and Mobil stations at the bargain basement price of only 55,000 dollars a station and that is only the first stage of its push into the American market. Senator Schumer stood together with Putin at the ceremony opening the new stations with Schumer praising the move as a means to gain independence from OPEC. What he fails to realize is that it now means dependence on Russia.
But we're far from done because Russia is also pushing its way into Israel. Last year as Minister in Sharon's government Ehud Olmert met with the President of Gazprom, the same illegally stolen company now state-owned which Moscow turned into a tool to pressure its former republics and even the European Union. Today the proposal on the table calls for Russia to lay an undersea gas pipeline from Turkey to Israel. The Russians have offered to cover the 1.5 Billion cost of building the pipeline...as long as they control it and can use it as leverage.
So while Russia is arming Israel's enemies, it is also looking for internal leverage. During the birth of Israel the USSR voted in the affirmative to create the State of Israel because they believed they would take it over. Indeed the USSR trained and financed a faction within Israel that stockpiled weapons in preparation for a Communist coup that never happened. Failing to make Israel their own, Russia instead backed the Arabs and Palestinian terrorists such as the PLO. Everything from Palestinian propaganda to training and equipment for the PLO came out of Moscow.
Much of the Palestinian leadership was trained in Moscow and still speaks Russian. Among them Yasir Arafat's brother and current PA President Abbas who received his doctorate at the Peoples' Friendship University. The Peoples' Friendship University was more accurately a place for foreign Marxist terrorists and guerrillas. A more famous graduate of it was Carlos the Jackal. Since then the PLO has had to change with the times becoming less Marxist and more Islamist and Russia has become less Communist and more capitalist, but the basic equation remains the same.
What has changed though is Russian immigration. The first tide of committed Russian Jews leaving Russia in the 70's and 80's, struggling against persecution and tyranny in order to live as Jews in a Jewish state, increasingly gave way to Russian immigrants leaving Russia for economic reasons, many of them non-Jewish or of mixed origin. To Jews Israel was a national homeland, to Russians it was a prosperous Western country offering generous benefits to new immigrants. All it took was a claim of a Jewish grandparent, somewhere.
Flash forward to the middle half of the first decade of the 21st century and Israel has its own Neo-Nazi organization, synagogues being desecrated with Swastikas and a cottage industry of white pride music. Troubled immigrant children are drawing pictures of Adolf Hitler and Livejournal pages feature racist thugs discussing how they beat up elderly Jews.
In 1989 Jewish Agency figures showed that 89 percent of Russians arriving were Jews and 6 percent non-Jews.By 1997 the numbers were 65 percent Jews to 45 percent non-Jews. Current figures suggest that of the current Russian immigration as much as 90 percent is non-Jewish and 40 percent of the overall Russian immigrants in Israel are not Halachically Jewish. Those numbers approach half a million.
What explains this tragic state of affairs. Simply there are a lot of interested parties who actively seek a large scale non-Jewish immigration to Israel.
The first is the American Christian Religious Right. Evangelicals run large programs featuring calls for donations to bring the children of Israel home. These of course first and foremost bring in donations to their own organizations. Evangelical Christians have indeed made widely publicized trips to bring Russian Jews to Israel. Many of these went on to join the 'Messianic' Churches that have sprung up like poisonous shrubs across Israel. Much as with the American form of Messianic Judaism, the actual congregations of the Israeli churches are mainly non-Jews. They do however serve as missionaries and as tools to establish a domestic presence in Israel for Evangelical Christians.
Secondly the Labor Party, Meretz, Shinui, Kadima and the usual secularists, some even among the right wing parties, who wanted to disconnect Israel from religion by bringing in large amounts of non-Jews. To their way of thinking the Russians would make good citizens without the deficit of religious attachments. That was also Ariel Sharon's position as well.
Thirdly the Russian political party Yisrael Beiteinu needs Russian votes to gain more power. More Russian votes require more immigrants to provide them and Yisrael Beiteinu doesn't care where it gets them. And so Yisrael Beiteinu has championed secular marriages and an irreligious society to match the goals of their large non-Jewish voting base.
Fourthly there is Russia itself. While Russia has always been opposed to Jewish immigration, Russian immigration creates what they see as a short term Russian diaspora that sends back money to families in Russia, which boosts the economy; similar to the position of Mexico on Mexican immigration to the US.
The new Russia's regime's approach to immigration is subtle. It does not interfere with Jewish immigration, instead it seeks to take control of Russian Jewish institutions both at home and abroad. Those institutions then go on to repeat the propaganda of the Russian government.
Putin began by destroying the power of independent businessmen leaving only those loyal to his policies, free. Those businessmen become further tools of Russian policy. They've gone on to purchase emigre Russian newspapers and radio stations in America and Israel, such as the Novoye Russkoye Slovo and the Russian Jewish edition of the Forward transforming them into mouthpieces for Russian propaganda. The media themselves become stepping stones for promoting candidates for political office in America and Israel such as Alec Brook-Krasny. The Russian Americans for Israel organization even put forward candidates for the World Jewish Congress. The captive media which marches to Moscow's beat becomes a means of controlling Russians and Russian Jews even outside of Russia and to leverage their votes to influence the politics of the countries they live in.
Along with the independent businessmen, Putin also demolished the independent Jewish community in Russia, replacing it with the Chabad run Federation of Jewish Communities of the CIS, whose chief Rabbi, Rabbi Berel Lazar parrots Russian propaganda about there being no more Anti-Semitism in Russia even as Jews are being murdered in Anti-Semitic attacks. The FJC puts out statements glowingly speaking about Jews returning to Russia, as if that was a good thing, rather than a horror, and talking up conditions for Jews in Russia.
The largest Russian emigre population though remains in Israel. The KGB has always had a spy network in Israel piggybacked on Russian Jewish immigrants, which while inconvenient for Communism was convenient for the purposes of planting spies. That network has remained in place despite some arrests such as that of Professor Marcus Klinberg, a KGB officer who headed Israel's Israel Institute for Biological Research and Shabtai Kalmanovitch who managed to worm this way into the upper echelons of Israeli society hosting parties for IDF generals and government ministers.
The potential scale of that network though is umaginable running the gamut from frightened and jobless immigrants jotting down license numbers outside of embassies for a few shekels to an unknown high ranking spy in the Israeli Defense Ministry and compromised Knesset members. The KGB maintained links and ties and compromising information on tens of thousands of Russian emigres, for when the need should arise. Many of those leaving in the 70's even pressured into signing forms agreeing to pass on information to Russia, should they be asked to. Most were never asked and most would never follow through, but for some those papers were used to blackmail them in their new countries.
But the actual spies are the tip of the iceberg. The Russian population in Israel allows the Putin regime to influence Israeli politics as never before using a domestic voting bloc. While Russia undermines Israel politically and militarily Russian politicians and propogandists work to cement the emotional ties of the immigrants to their former country. Meanwhile the lucrative business ties between Russia and Israel allows Russian businessmen to buy and peddle influence in Israel at the behest of the Russian government. The Gazprom delegation to Israel featured Amos Yaron, the former Director General of Israel's Ministry of Defense. The last Gazprom negotiations resulted in a criminal investigation being launched against Ariel Sharon. The current one featured the Russians offering Olmert to make his close friend billionaire Benny Steinmetz their Israeli partner.
Thus Russia's strategy boils down to this.
External. A military and political alliance with Arab nations, providing them weapons and aid without any of America's restrictions. This pushes America into pressuring Israel in order to win back the Arabs, forcing Israel to look for a way out of the trap, but it's still a Russian trap at both ends.
Internal. Buying influence through business deals, gaining control of the media and fielding local political parties inside Israel. Espionage, influence peddling, propaganda. Jewish immigrants are lured back to Russia to service the growing Russian industries and those who remain in Israel are used to promote Russia's policies and propaganda so that Israel is spied on and torn apart from within.
Both ways the sword cuts, inside and outside, it's far more lethal than most understand and it only grows sharper with each passing day. Most believe that the fall of the USSR marked the end of Russia's campaign in the Middle East. The reality is it has only begun and it has now achieved a widespread penetration and destructive influence never dreamed of before.