What the Jewish View of President Putin and Russia Ought to Be

Much of the world, including the left in the US, are incensed that the US Administration would befriend Russia. Even Republican Congressional Leadership have joined the “#metoohaterussia” movement. For Jews this angst is not only unfounded it is counter to Jewish interests and ultimately counter to American interests as well.

Let’s look at a more complete picture. The greatest threat to Jews and the world at this point are the Mullahs of Iran. Hands down. The terrorist acts they have fomented against Americans and Jews around the world are horrendous. They are responsible for murdering 241 American soldiers in Beirut, the most devastating terrorist attack on American soldiers in history, a mass killing of 85 Jews at an Argentina Jewish Community Center and the continuous funding of Hezbollah and Hamas proxies who attempt to do the killing for them. Their focus is the Jewish people and Israel – where half of the world’s Jews reside. The Mullahs and their henchmen are pure evil and that they perpetrate this murder in G-d’s name makes them exponentially more disgusting. The Obama Administration provided them with pallets of billions of dollars in small denominations of US cash which is being used today in an attempt to murder and kill more Americans and Jews across the globe. This should have made every American Jew ill.

Thank G-d President Trump had the clarity to see this evil and the threat it presented across the globe and understand that appeasement emboldens. In order to further undercut their murderous ways, President Trump has to ask, which powerful nation is currently working with Iran and could be convinced to cut them off – further escalating their decline and potential replacement? Easy answer: Russia. This does not mean we love everything that Russia does today. The only way to reduce or eliminate the Iranian regularly declared threat to wipe Israel off the map is to work with Russia. Israel clearly understands this. Prime Minister Netanyahu understands this and is working with Mr. Putin. President Trump understands this. And the left understands this only too well. They are reeling from the repeal of the Iran deal and their new-found coziness with the Mullahs. Many in Congress on the right who took major campaign contributions from businesses working with Iran and benefitted from sanctions being lifted. They are reeling as well and as a result they are working with the left in fomenting the Russian hatred.

What about Russia’s instigation of war with Ukraine? Jews clearly despise the killing of innocents. Nevertheless, Jews should have no great love for Ukraine. They still have revere Bogdan Khmelnitsky, the greatest murderer of Jews in that century, the Hitler of his day. They just named another street after him. They just had a march to commemorate the anniversary of the SS division in Galicia. Has Ukraine ever even contemplated an apology or taught about the holocaust in their schools or considered taking down the statue? Not a chance. Anti-Semitism flourishes again in the Ukraine. While many blame the upswing in anti-Semitism on the war with Russia and the difficult economic conditions in parts of the country, the truth is that it appears to be endemic and is infecting a new generation. (The upside being Aliyah to Israel from Ukraine which is at record levels.)

By contrast, amazingly, Judaism is experiencing a major rebirth in Russia. After the holocaust, as well as Stalin’s attempt to eliminate our people, the Jewish resurgence is in full gear. Chabad houses cover Russia’s time zones. Twenty-eight Chabad Centers dot the Moscow area alone. A little more than a century ago, the three-fourths of the world’s Jews lived in the countries of the former Soviet Union. And today we are witnessing many Jews, for whom the Russians stamped their identity cards, finding their way back home.

One more benefit to having amicable relations with Russia: reducing the nuclear threat. Which nation can help us pressure North Korea to de-nuclearize their peninsula? Simple answer: Russia.

Finally, there’s President Putin, who was grew up as a Shabbat goy and was impacted by the friendship of an older Jewish couple. He found his favorite high school teacher who had moved to Tel Aviv was having a difficult time financially. So, he bought her an apartment in Tel Aviv. When she recently passed away she left the apartment to him. Mr. Putin owns an apartment in Israel which is more of a connection than many American Jews can claim.

Much more importantly is his relationship with Bibi Netanyahu. It appears they are working together to ensure Israel is protected from the war in Syria. They have been able to reach understandings so that when Israel takes action, Russians are not targets and Israel is able to act as they need to in order to protect their borders and keep peace – at least for the moment.

Should we be concerned if we find that Russia tried to influence the US election? Sure. But the last Administration clearly tried to influence the Israeli election with hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants and personnel. Are American Jews outraged? Not so much. Should we be concerned if we find out that Russia is poisoning individuals on foreign soil? Absolutely.

But to utter Russia and Putin in the same breath as Iran and the Mullahs as enemies of the US, is way beyond the pale and certainly not in the interest of any clear-thinking American Jew who has concerns for the physical safety of his fellow Jews and fellow Americans.

About the Author
Gary Schiff lives in the Washington, DC suburbs. He and his family spent most of their lives in the western US helping manage the nation's forests. He is currently a policy director for a natural resource organization. Fifteen years ago, he was also the president of a conservative synagogue in Nevada. He and his family have increased their learning and observance and the majority of the family has made aliyah.
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