Thursday, June 09, 2016

 Vic Rosenthal's Weekly Column

Today Israel’s PM Binyamin Netanyahu is concluding a two-day visit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. This is the fourth time within a year that Netanyahu and Putin have met. Russian-Israeli relations now are probably the best they have been since the period immediately after the War of Independence.

Some of the topics that they admit to discussing have been economic, trade, technological and agricultural cooperation and the funding of pensions to Russians who have immigrated to Israel from the former Soviet Union. Military aides discussed communications to prevent accidental clashes between Russian and Israeli forces operating in Syria. Russia and Israel have many interests in common, and both Netanyahu and Putin are happy to talk about some of them publicly.

There are other things that they keep private. The situation is remarkably complicated.

Israel is not happy about Russian sales of sophisticated arms to Iran, such as the S-300 air defense system. Israel wants to break the chain of supplies from Iran, through the Syrian Assad regime, to Hezbollah in Lebanon. It is also worried about the Hezbollah and Iranian forces in the Syrian Golan Heights. 

But Hezbollah is fighting alongside Assad, and Putin is supporting Assad. He wants Assad to keep control of at least part of the country in order to protect Russian naval and air bases. Putin also hopes to make Syria a client and embarrass the West, who are supporting some of the anti-Assad rebels.

Meanwhile, Israel is trying to improve relations with Russia’s historic rival, Turkey, while Turkey has been assisting some of Assad’s enemies, and even shot down a Russian plane last November.

Complicated enough? Don’t forget the Islamic State, which more or less everyone opposes, except maybe Saudi Arabia and Turkey (but they don’t admit it). The Saudis are also supporting some of Assad’s other enemies, which puts them in conflict with Russian aims.

Where is the US in all this? Almost nowhere, since it made it clear that it would not intervene against Assad when he used chemical weapons in Syria, probably because it didn’t want to upset Assad’s patron, Iran. It is operating against the IS to a limited extent, and supporting Iranian forces fighting IS guerrillas.

Israel has tried to stay out of the conflict in Syria, but it is the strongest power in the region and is right next door. The rational thing would be for Russia and Israel to jointly decide Syria’s fate in a way that would serve both their interests. Not even the US or Iran would be able to prevent the two from dictating such an arrangement.

Russia has a great deal of influence over Iran, certainly more than the US has obtained from Obama’s sycophantic courtship of the contemptuous regime. It seems to me that there is plenty of room here for cooperation, and for Israel to drive at least a small wedge between Russia and Iran. Suppose Israel agreed to help Russia guarantee Assad’s survival in at least part of Syria in return for Russia pressuring Iran to withdraw Hezbollah forces from the area close to Israel’s border?

Russia’s help would also be valuable in staving off an international agreement on Syria that includes the Golan Heights. 

The Russian S-300 system was initially considered a game-changer. Its delivery to Iran was delayed for years, perhaps a result of Netanyahu’s approaches to Putin. But we haven’t heard many complaints from Jerusalem since the first units were delivered. Could it be that Israel has developed countermeasures to render it less dangerous? It is even imaginable that Israel received information from Russia about how to neutralize the version sold to Iran. 

The US has protected Iran’s nuclear program from Israel, because the Obama Administration (stupidly) does not consider Iran a threat against the American homeland. Iran recently tested a missile with a range of about 2000 km (Tel Aviv is 1500 km from Tehran). It won’t be long before Moscow, only 2500 km away, will also be in range. It’s hard to believe that the Russians will be comfortable with this. Will they help Israel delay Iran’s nuclear arming? 

Finally, there is the Palestinian issue. There have been hints that the US would not veto a UN Security Council resolution declaring settlements illegal or setting a time limit for Israel to withdraw from Judea and Samaria, especially if it is proposed after the American elections in November, when the administration will not have to fear political fallout. Russia is one of the five Security Council members that has the power to veto such a resolution. Even if it didn’t go that far, it could apply pressure to weaken the resolution before the vote.

Russian diplomacy has in the past leaned toward the Palestinians, although there have been several recent statements by Russian diplomats opposing imposed solutions and calling for direct negotiations between the parties. Everything considered, a turnabout in American and Russian votes in the Security Council would be surprising – but it could happen.

Russia wants to increase her influence in the Middle East and reduce that of the US. Putin understands that the Obama Administration has pushed Israel away, and sees an opportunity to step into the gap.

Russia wants to be more involved in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. It seems to me that at this point it would be more flexible and understanding of our position than Obama has been or Clinton is likely to be (I won’t try to predict the behavior of a Trump Administration), so I welcome this development. 

Some have said that Putin himself has a “positive attitude toward Jews.” If this is true, it makes him one of a select few among national leaders. But in any event, it is irrelevant. Nobody in Putin’s shoes, and especially not a chess-playing, Machiavellian ex-KGB officer like Putin, makes decisions based on feelings. Israel has been very careful not to step on Russia’s toes – it did not join in Western criticism of Russia for its actions in Ukraine, for example – and Netanyahu seems to have put together a solid package of inducements for a better relationship.

Israel started off life as a state with the support of the Soviet bloc, which it lost in the 1950s, when the Russians felt that it would be a more effective Cold War strategy to support our enemies, and in the 1967 and 1973 wars they armed and supplied them. In 1975, the notorious “Zionism is racism” resolution at the UN was orchestrated by the Soviet Union. During the 1970s and 80s, the Soviets trained and supported the PLO and other terror groups. But after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, diplomatic relations with Russia were resumed, and more than a million Russian Jews were able to come to Israel (where I live, I hear Russian on the street as much as Hebrew).

Today Russia is one of Israel’s biggest trading partners. Israel buys oil from Russia, sells military equipment to it, and hosts Russian tourists. Visas are not required for travel between the countries – as opposed to the US, which has refused to waive visa requirements for Israelis – and there is a plan to establish a free-trade agreement. 

With the American withdrawal from the Middle East and the increasingly anti-Israel tone of the administration, Israel is finding new partners. The Israel-Russia relationship “is complicated,” as Facebook would say, but it could be critical to our survival.

We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.

EoZTV Podcast

Podcast URL

Subscribe in podnovaSubscribe with FeedlyAdd to netvibes
addtomyyahoo4Subscribe with SubToMe

search eoz



follow me

Follow by Email


Share on Whatsapp


For $18 donation

Sample Text

EoZ's Most Popular Posts Ever


Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 12 years and over 25,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


Donate to fight for Israel!

Monthly subscription:
Payment options

One time donation:

subscribe via email

Follow EoZ on Twitter!



The Jerusalem Report:"A seemingly indefatigable one-man operation, armed only with a computer, chutzpa and stamina."

Algemeiner: "Fiercely intelligent and erudite"

Omri: "Elder is one of the best established and most respected members of the jblogosphere..."
Atheist Jew:"Elder of Ziyon probably had the greatest impression on me..."
Soccer Dad: "He undertakes the important task of making sure that his readers learn from history."
AbbaGav: "A truly exceptional blog..."
Judeopundit: "[A] venerable blog-pioneer and beloved patriarchal figure...his blog is indispensable."
Oleh Musings: "The most comprehensive Zionist blog I have seen."
Carl in Jerusalem: "...probably the most under-recognized blog in the JBlogsphere as far as I am concerned."
Aussie Dave: "King of the auto-translation."
The Israel Situation:The Elder manages to write so many great, investigative posts that I am often looking to him for important news on the PalArab (his term for Palestinian Arab) side of things."
Tikun Olam: "Either you are carelessly ignorant or a willful liar and distorter of the truth. Either way, it makes you one mean SOB."
Mondoweiss commenter: "For virulent pro-Zionism (and plain straightforward lies of course) there is nothing much to beat it."
Didi Remez: "Leading wingnut"

Interesting Blogs


Abbas liar Academic fraud administrivia al-Qaeda algeria American Jews Amnesty analysis anti-semitism antisemitism apartheid arab refugees Arafat archaeology art ASHREI B'tselem bahrain Balfour bbc BDS BDSFail Bedouin Beitunia beoz book review Brant Rosen breaking the silence Campus antisemitism Cardozo Chakindas Chanukah Christians circumcision Clark Kent Community Standards conspiracy theories Cyprus Daled Amos Daphne Anson David Applebaum Davis report DCI-P Divest This double standards Egypt Elder gets results ElderToons Electronic Intifada Embassy EoZ Trump symposium eoz-symposium EoZNews eoztv Erekat Erekat lung transplant EU Euro-Mid Observer European antisemitism Facebook jail Fake Civilians 2014 Farrakhan Fatah featured Features fisking flotilla Forest Rain Forward free gaza freedom of press palestinian style future martyr Gary Spedding gaza Gaza Platform George Galloway George Soros German Jewry gideon levy gilad shalit gisha Goldstone Report Good news Grapel Guardian guest post gunness Haaretz Hadassah hamas Hamas war crimes Hananya Naftali hasbara Hasby 2014 Hasby 2016 Hasby 2018 hate speech Hebron helen thomas hezbollah history Hizballah Holocaust Holocaust denial honor killing HRW Human Rights Humanitarian crisis humor huor Hypocrisy ICRC IDF Ilan Pappe impossible peace incitement Indonesia international law intransigence iran Iraq Islamic Judeophobia Islamism Israel Loves America Israeli culture Israeli high-tech J Street jabalya jeremy bowen Jerusalem jewish fiction Jewish Voice for Peace jihad jimmy carter John Kerry jokes jonathan cook Jordan Joseph Massad Juan Cole Judaism Judea-Samaria Judean Rose Kairos Karl Vick Keith Ellison ken roth khalid amayreh Khaybar Lebanon leftists Linda Sarsour Linkdump lumish mahmoud zahar Malaysia max blumenthal Mazen Adi McGraw-Hill media bias Methodist Michael Ross Miftah Missionaries moderate Islam Mohammed Assaf Mondoweiss moonbats Morocco Mudar Zahran music Muslim Brotherhood Nakba Nation of Islam Natural gas Nazi Netanyahu News nftp NGO NIF Noah Phillips norpac NYT Occupation offbeat Omar Barghouti Only in Israel Opinion oxfam PA corruption PalArab lies Palestine Papers pallywood pchr PCUSA Peace Now Peter Beinart Petra MB poetry Poland poll Poster Preoccupied Prisoners propaganda Proud to be Zionist Puar Purim purimshpiel Putin Qaradawi Qassam calendar Quora Rafah Ray Hanania real liberals reference Richard Falk Richard Silverstein Right of return Rivkah Lambert Adler Robert Werdine rogel alpher roger cohen roger waters Rutgers Saeb Erekat Saudi Arabia saudi vice self-death self-death palestinians sex crimes SFSU shechita sheikh tamimi Shujaiyeh Simchat Torah Simona Sharoni SodaStream South Africa Speech stamps Superman Syria Tarabin Temple Mount Terrorism This is Zionism Thomas Friedman TOI Trump Tunisia Turkey UCI UK UN UNDP unesco unhrc UNICEF United Arab Emirates Unity unrwa UNRWA hate unrwa reports UNRWA-USA unwra Varda Vic Rosenthal Washington wikileaks work accident X-washing Y. Ben-David Yemen YMikarov zahran Ziesel zionist attack zoo Zvi

Blog Archive