Ari Ackerman, a student from Switzerland, was walking home along the Tel Aviv beach after a late-night swim when he and a friend were jumped by a gang singing Nazi songs and displaying swastika tattoos.
The perpetrators, a group of Russian-speaking teenagers, eventually ran off. Ackerman and his friend, their faces bruised and bloodied, set off to the closest police station only to have their case shrugged off.
In recent years, sporadic acts of anti-Semitism have hit Israel, most of them carried out by disaffected immigrant youths from the former Soviet Union (FSU). Although the youths came to Israel under the Law of Return, they are among those who identify not as Jews but as ethnic Russians. Under Israel's Law of Return, a cornerstone of Israel's identity as a haven for all Jews, anyone with a Jewish parent or grandparent is permitted to immigrate and be granted citizenship.
What is significant though is that the JTA has also printed a fact generally obscured and hidden, which is that the Israeli police on an ongoing basis ignore such crimes and violations. Except for rare occasions when they become public, people who file complaints, who report severe injuries even are simply ignored. A Jewish woman cursing an Arab woman on tape results in an international outcry and shrill headlines in Israeli and Western tabloids. By contrast Russian Jewish senior citizens are routinely assaulted and harassed by Neo-Nazi groups , some of which openly discuss their exploits on websites and livejournal pages. And nothing is done about it.
When pressed various government and agency figures trot out the usual nonsense about marginalized youth and how they just haven't adapted. Adapting to any country isn't easy. And it's a problem for each generation of immigrants. Each generation of immigrants has its drop outs and even its criminal culture... but these are not merely dropouts, they're an increasingly organized collection of hate groups being fostered in Israel with government funding and government tolerance. And that must end.
The Jewish Agency has been severely compromised. The top Jewish Agency official in the Novosibirsk region for example outright defected to work for a Messianic Missionary group. Others have reported that any attempt at detecting fraud and stemming it, met with dismissals. The problem is not minor. The vandalisms of Synagogues and physical assaults are the tip of a much larger iceberg. Israel has taken in refugees from around the world. Both Jewish and Non-Jewish. From Sudanese to Vietnamese. But it cannot absorb a hostile population. That should have been the lesson learned with Israel's Arab population. It would be tragic to have to relearn it again with a Russian one.
Many Non-Jewish Russian immigrants have displayed a great deal of patriotism and love of their new country. Indeed such a presence goes back to the days preceding Israel's independence, when at least one prominent Russian Naval Officer played a major role. Some former Russian military personnel have today formed independent patrol and security units. That is one side. But the other side can be seen in the growing number of attacks, which must be confronted and dealt with by the government, rather than covered up. The cover up and neglect only give the problem more room to breed.
Russia has a tragic and ancient history of Anti-Semitism and violence against Jews. It is one that Russian immigrants carry with them. Millions of Jews have escaped Russia to get away from it, only to find that it is now with them.
Rabbi Zalman Gilichinski maintains a website covering the situation.