From Russia With…?
Israel’s relationship with Russia has always been uneven, at best.
From the time of the czars, at least, anti-Semitism has been a scourge in that remote, gigantic country. As I’ve stated before, Benzion Netanyahu once told me, “Russia hated the Jews before she knew them.” Meaning, of course, that the reason for the hatred is something not often considered. I believe it is a spiritual sickness alluded to in the Garden of Eden.
I once met Natan Sharansky, the former Soviet dissident that was eventually released from a gulag and allowed to emigrate to Israel. This was due to years of diplomatic pressure by and including key Democrats in Washington. The diminutive Sharansky is a moral giant, and his serene nature almost surprised me. He had endured.
We know of course that pogroms in Europe in the last century and beyond were horrific. The Soviets, a brutal regime, ground some Jewish communities to powder.
And yet, in November 1947, Russia was one of the 33 “yes” votes to the Partition of Palestine, thus giving the Jews a much-earned state. I’ve always wondered about that, and we can come up with geopolitical reasons, but I like to think that they gave consent because God wanted them to. The stones crying out and all that.
Some of us are old enough to remember the Soviet bloc countries and the breakup of the old Soviet Union, around 1990. Boris Yeltsin was probably a sincere, but drunken leader.
Then stepped Putin onto the world stage. A KGB officer, Putin is an evil man, to this day. His sometimes gestures toward peace mask an agenda that has a single focus: make Russia the dominant world power. Even though the Kremlin is no longer blood red, it’s still pretty red.
And so it is interesting to learn this week that Naftali Bennett, who stole the premiership in Israel away from Benjamin Netanyahu, is continuing the Israeli policy of almost deference to Putin.
(This is not unlike their too-chummy relationship with China.)
Bennett said that Putin is “attentive” to Israel’s security needs. This is probably akin to thanking Tony Soprano for not killing you as he takes protection money.
Bennett mentioned the need for coordination with the Russian presence in Syria, as Israel routinely launches strikes against Iranian proxies in that hellish country.
The Jerusalem Post reported it this way:
“The meeting on Friday, which Bennett said ‘was very good and went very in-depth,’ continued far longer than planned, causing the prime minister, who observes Shabbat, and his delegation to remain in Russia until Saturday night.
“’Israel’s foreign relations are in full swing,’ Bennett said. ‘This government is opening a lot of new doors for Israel in the world – and we are, of course, strengthening the existing and good relations with many countries.
“’It’s always heartening to see how much our country is valued and how much we have to contribute to the world,’ he said.”
Maybe so, but many of us watching this all through a prophetic lens know that the day is coming when the Russian Bear will not be so “attentive to Israel’s security needs.” In fact, those needs will be punctured with a coalition army that will find its doom on the mountains of Israel.
Until then, let’s celebrate at least this “cold peace,” this cessation of hostilities between Russia and Israel. The Soviets backed Israel’s Cold War enemies, and now have a warm-weather port in Syria.