Russia and The New Middle East

With the return to power by the Obama administration through their proxy Joe Biden, I worried that the Biden administration would carry on the policies of the previous two-term Obama administration that involved the embrace of the Muslim Brotherhood, Turkey and Iran, all enemies of Israel.  On December 23, 2016 that administration underscored its animosity towards Israel by not vetoing the anti-Israel United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 2334. Thus, the US could not be counted on to veto any anti-Israel Security Council resolution.

Regardless of any pro-Israel assurances uttered by the current administration, I believe that their policies are all detrimental to Israel.  They are once again seeking to revive the JCPOA and the two-state solution, both of which have been rejected by Israel. Though the Biden administration hasn’t rejected the Abraham Accords, their involvement in them and in the final negotiations with Saudi Arabia to join the Accords will co-opt the Arab states to once again back the two-state solution and other anti-Israel measures they intend taking.

During the Obama years, when Israel was much weaker, Israel managed to resist Obama’s pressure. This time around they are better equipped to resist.

But I worry about what the UNSC might do with the US acquiescence. 

I wondered whether Russia can be induced to veto future UNSC resolutions which are inimical to Israel. This may not be as fanciful as you might think.

Background

At the end of the nineteenth century, Jews living in Russia and elsewhere were greatly discriminated against. 

This overt antisemitism had deep roots in Russia. Just recall that in 1903, the infamous Protocols of the Elders of Zion was first published in Russia.  It alleged a Jewish plan for global domination.  This meme was embraced by antisemites throughout the world and remains, to this day, deeply entrenched in their belief system.

The political scientist Stephen Bronner described it as "probably the most influential work of antisemitism ever written ... what the Communist Manifesto is for Marxism, the fictitious Protocols is for antisemitism".[4]

At the time, Jews were of different minds how to deal with it.  They had four choices; Communism, Zionism, Judaism or assimilation. Each offered a panacea. But none delivered.

1917 was the year Great Britain issued the Balfour Declaration and the Communist Revolution took place in Russia.

The Balfour Declaration provided:

“His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, in any other country.“

By doing so, it hoped to induce American Jews to get the US to join the war against Germany and to induce Russian Jews to keep Russia in the war. It succeeded in the first but not the second.

Communist leadership feared internal dissent and opposition arising from the substantial segment of party members who were Jewish and thus potentially attracted to such a Jewish homeland.  This led to the declaration of Zionism as an ideological enemy.”

Joseph Stalin departed from his anti-Zionist agenda when he recognized the State of Israel after she declared her independence in 1948.  In fact, the Soviet Union was the first country to do so.  He did so because he saw Israel as a socialist country which it was for many decades.  You will recall that Czechoslovakia, which was under the control of the USSR, was the main supplier of weapons to Israel in the lead up to Arab/Israel war enabling her to win the war.

Surprisingly, during this War, the US enforced an arms embargo on Israel which remained until after the Six Day War in 1967.

The Soviet support for Israel ended in the mid-fifties.

In 1951, the Soviets for the first and last time, voted for a UNSC resolution favorable to Israel. Thereafter they began protecting the Arabs and using the Arab-Israel conflict as a tool in the Cold War with America.

Syria, Egypt and Iraq all installed socialist governance headed by the Baathist Party. 

Whether the Soviet Union intended to provoke a war is not known for certain.  But the aggressiveness of both Syria and Egypt led to a preventive strike by Israel in 1967 and their total defeat in six days.

The Soviets also viewed Israel's victory in this war as damaging to themselves because this one nation had been able to destroy multiple Arab countries that had been supplied with Soviet military hardware, as well as Soviet military expertise. The United States' growing support of Israel further exacerbated relations between the Soviet Union and Israel, which furthered the Soviet Union's decision to break off diplomatic ties to Israel.

Keep in mind that the US State Department did not want to recognize Israel in 1948 as they preferred to curry favor with oil producing Saudi Arabia and the more numerous Arabs.  This preference continued to the present. President Trump was able to reverse this preference after achieving oil independence.

After the war, The Soviets were out for revenge and respect.  The KGB embraced and PLO and arranged for Arafat, the founder of Al Fatah, to become the head of the PLO.  They supplied Arafat with weapons and diplomatic support and encouraged him to use terror and hijack planes to achieve recognition.

Following PLO president Yasser Arafat's "olive branch" speech to the General Assembly in November 1974, UN General Assembly Resolution 3237 granted the PLO Permanent Observer status.

Approximately one year later, the UNGA "determine[d] that Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination" by Resolution 3379. This resolution was finally revoked in 1991.  But the damage had been done.  Many now believe that Zionism is a form of racism.

During the later parts of the Cold War Soviet Jews were persecuted as possible traitors, Western sympathizers, or a security liability. Jewish organizations in Russia were closed down, with the exception of a few token synagogues. These synagogues were then placed under police surveillance, both openly and through the use of informers. Jews were not allowed to emigrate giving rise to the Let My People Go movement.

Mikhail Gorbachev lifted the ban on Jewish emigration in 1989 just before the dissolution of the USSR. Approximately 1 million Russian Jews emigrated to Israel of which 26% were halachicly, not Jews according to Jewish law..

As a result, Israel is part Russophone and considered to be the world's only part Russophone country outside the former Soviet UnionRussian is the third most widely spoken first language in Israel, and has the third largest number of Russian speakers outside former Soviet countries, and the highest as a proportion of the total population.[2]

Over 100,000 Israeli citizens live in Russia,[3] with 80,000 Israelis living in Moscow,[4] while hundreds of thousands of Russian citizens reside in Israel. There are 1.5 million native Russian-speaking Israelis.

And so began the post USSR/Cold War era.

In our article Contemplating a US-Russian Alliance published Feb 16/16 we noted:

“The collapse of the Soviet Union was a painful blow to Russia and the West took advantage of this collapse. The bombing of Serbia and recognition of Kosovo, the “color revolutions” in the former Soviet Union, NATO’s extension to the Baltic countries, and the constant hectoring of Russia on human rights served to undermine Russia and make her feel threatened. This formed the impetus for the revival of nationalism under the leadership of Vladimir Putin.”

As a result, Russia is wary of the US and acts accordingly. On the other hand, both Russia and Israel have sought common ground and are getting along fine.

Putin and Netanyahu meet on January 23, 2020

Photo: Office of the President of the Russian Federation CC BY-4.0