Home
In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

Putin and Netanyahu joining forces in quest for stability

By Fred Weir





History of poor relations fading as Israel and Russia focus on shared goals, needs


JewishWorldReview.com |

mOSCOW — (TCSM) Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Israel today for a two-day visit that publicly emphasizes the dramatic reconciliation and galloping economic cooperation between Moscow and Jerusalem.

Experts say that the geopolitical differences between Russia and Israel are not as deep as many people believe. With the exception of sharp disagreement over what to do about Iran's alleged drive for nuclear weapons, differences are greatly overshadowed by a growing array of commonalities.

Topping that list is a shared sense that Russia and Israel alone fully understand the menace of Islamist extremism. Israel believes it confronts extremism on a daily basis, and Putin sees it as a serious threat to Russia's territorial integrity emanating from the restive northern Caucasus region, whose population is mainly Sunni Muslim. Both feel increasingly isolated in the Middle East, with Egypt's newMuslim Brotherhood president hinting that he might revise his country's treaty with Israel, and Russia facing unprecedented hostility from Turkey and the Arab world over its continued support of Syria's strongman Bashar al-Assad.



RECEIVE LIBERTY LOVING COLUMNISTS IN YOUR INBOX … FOR FREE!

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". HUNDREDS of columnists and cartoonists regularly appear. Sign up for the daily update. It's free. Just click here.

"The worse Russia's relations with the Arab world, the better they will be with Israel," says Fyodor Lukyanov, editor of Russia in Global Affairs, a leading Moscow-based foreign policy journal.

"Russia now finds itself at odds with almost all the Arab countries over Syria, and this could be a long-term trend. Syria is the last Russian client state inherited from the Soviet Union, and it's probably not going to last. New rulers will be far more mistrustful of Russia, and if they are Islamists the feelings will be mutual. At least when they're talking about the threat of radical Islam, Putin will feel mentally very close with Netanyahu," he says.

TOURISM, TRADE BOOST RELATIONSHIP
Putin's first stop after arriving in Israel was the dedication of a monument to Soviet Red Army forces killed in World War II in Netanya. Putin told a crowd of about 600 people that the double-winged white dove erected by Israel "symbolizes the triumph of good and peace. May these values always serve as the basis for friendship between our nations."

Since the collapse of the USSR, the Russian narrative about World War II — that the Red Army liberated eastern Europe from Naziism — has been painfully challenged by many former allies whose new version of history sees the arrival of Soviet forces as the beginning of a new occupation.

"Israel is one of the few countries in the world that fully backs the Russian view on World War II, so for Putin the symbolism here is very important," says Dmitry Maryasis, an expert with the Israeli Studies Department of the official Institute of Oriental Studies in Moscow. "The role of the Red Army in liberating Europe is not often celebrated these days, so Russians will receive this signal very warmly."

During the cold war, the USSR supported rejectionist Arab states and the Palestinians against Israel, a position that had ideological roots in the competition between Zionism and Communism in 20th century Europe. But the ideological dimension disappeared with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the emigration of more than 1 million Russian speakers to Israel in the 1990s, even before Russia's ties with authoritarian Arab states were moderated by improving economic and political ties with Israel and the West.

"Everything has changed since the end of the USSR, and the relationship with Israel is totally transformed," says Yevgeny Satanovsky, president of the independent Institute for Middle Eastern Studies in Moscow. "In Israel, one in seven citizens is Russian-speaking. There are now many prominent Russian-speakers, even at high levels of power, who have feelings of closeness toward Russia. In Moscow, there is no more official anti-Semitism and leaders are pragmatic. In some ways, such as the attitude toward the threat from radical Islamism, we are even closer in our views than Israel is with the US."

Trade has burgeoned; Israeli exports to Russia grew almost fourfold between 2003 and 2008, reaching $3 billion. That may not sound like much, but the areas of economic cooperation under consideration include nanotechnology, energy, and joint military projects, including the production of unmanned drone warplanes. Russia's natural gas monopoly Gazprom is eyeing offshore gas deposits in Israel, while the state-owned Russian Railroads is hoping to participate in a new Tel Aviv-Eilat high speed rail link.

SUPPORTING THE 'DEVIL THEY KNOW'
Putin later met with Netanyahu for a full discussion about Syria and Iran that both leaders characterized as detailed and friendly. Experts say that on Syria, at least, the two sides may not be all that far apart.

"Israel supports the Western position that Assad must go, while Russia has been backing Assad," says Mr. Maryasis. "But they're probably much closer than you would think. Israel is not keen to see a big mess break out on its border with Syria — along the Golan Heights — which has been relatively stable for years. Israel might actually prefer the devil it knows, Assad, to what might follow him. There is a very palpable fear in Israel that radical Islamists might follow Assad, and everything will get worse."

Likewise, experts say, Russia's occasional contacts with Islamist groups Hamas and Hezbollah, as well as its efforts to advocate for the Palestinian cause, are no longer viewed in Jerusalem as Soviet-style mischief, but merely the same sort of pragmatism practiced by other powers.

"Russia has always said that its participation is central to any future Middle East settlement, but in reality there's not much Moscow can do," says Georgy Mirsky, an expert at the Institute for World Economy and International relations, Moscow's most important official research center. "At the same time, relations with Israel are moving forward, powered by growing numbers of Russian businessmen and a flow of tourists — Russia is the second biggest source of tourists to Israel these days — and much improved dialogue on the official level."

Iran remains the single major sticking point. Experts say that Netanyahu will probably have given Putin an earful on the need for tougher sanctions and perhaps military measures to stop Iran's nuclear program, while Putin will have urged caution.

"Russia is deeply skeptical that military measures against Iran can have any lasting effect, and is very worried that a war could spread into Russia's own northern Caucasus," says Mr. Satanovsky. "Russia worries that it will cause regional disruption, refugee flows, and no one knows what else might come in the wake of an attack on Iran. This is the one big point on which Russia and Israel are doomed to disagree, and go on disagreeing."

Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Interested in a private Judaic studies instructor — for free? Let us know by clicking here.

Comment by clicking here.











© 2012, The Christian Science Monitor