Putin offers refuge in Russia for European Jews

A delegation for the European Jewish Congress (EJC) Tuesday met in the Kremlin with Russian president Vladimir Putin:

Issues raised during the discussion included the rise of anti-Semitism around the world and the threat of global terror, which is frequently aimed at Jewish targets.

"While Jews were once again a prominent target for global terror during 2015, the attacks in Paris, the US, and the mass murder of Russians on an airline in the Sinai show that the terrorists target us all,” EJC President Dr. Moshe Kantor said during the meeting.

Photo credit: Kremlin

They received a startling offer:

According to Russian news outlet RT, Putin replied: "Let [the Jews] come to us then," adding that "during the Soviet period they were leaving the country, and now they should return."

Kantor reportedly called Putin's proposal a “new fundamental idea” that the EJC will take up for debate.

Pardon my cynicism, but Russia is currently aligned with Iran, whose leadership wants to wipe Israel off the map.  Russia does not have a good history in its treatment of its Jewish population, and not only during the Soviet period.  If Europe’s Jews seek a safe haven, Israel welcomes them, even if the United States would not (for people to be granted refugee status in the United States, they need to be subject to official persecution, not just street violence and terrorism).

That said, Putin’s Russia has taken some steps:

At Putin's initiative, the Duma (Russian Parliament) recently passed a law outlawing "distorted and/or extremist" commentary of Scriptures.

The purpose of the unusual law, it is widely understood, is the prevention of cynical advantage being taken of Biblical verses for anti-Semitic purposes.

Putin has long been known to oppose anti-Semitism, and violent attacks against Jews in his country have in fact been on the decline in recent years.  He also conducts warm relations with Israel – even as he does the same with Iran.

The new law is not at all in the American tradition of freedom of religion, to say the least.  But it may be taken as evidence by some as to Putin’s intentions.

The one thing that must be stated is that unlike Western Europe (and many in the United States), Russia is willing to overtly defend the Western religious tradition.