Thursday, August 28, 2008

Window on Eurasia: Russian Anti-Semites Play Up Links Between Georgia and Israel

Paul Goble

Vienna, August 28 – Russian anti-Semites are using their media outlets to play up the links between Georgia and Israel and what they claim is the central role of the Jewish state in helping Georgia to become a military threat to Russia, reportage that cannot fail in the current environment to rekindle anti-Semitic attitudes among some radical Russian nationalists.
And while both the number of Jews in Russia and the number of openly anti-Semitic Russians are smaller than in the past, the xenophobic passions whipped up by groups like the Movement Against Illegal Immigration (DPNI) could at some point be directed against the Jewish community there if such efforts to link Israel and the Jews to Georgia continue unabated.
Up to now, most of the articles linking Georgians and Jews together and denouncing both have appeared on extremist blogs and websites rather than in the more generally accessible print or electronic media, but the same thing could be said about groups like DPNI which have used the web to mobilize their followers against immigrants and “people from the Caucasus.”
An example of this anti-Semitic attack on Israeli and Jewish ties to Georgia is provided by an article entitled “Why is Israel Helping the Georgians?” by Igor Savin, who is not identified by position, that first appeared on the “Russkaya ideya” portal but has since been reproduced on a number of others with larger audiences (
Savin said that he was “compelled” to bring to the attention of those Russian nationalists who share his views because Anatoly Nogovitsyn, the deputy chief of the Russian General Staff, had said at the end of last week that he could “confirm” that “Israel had delivered to Georgia arms and had helped train its military,” although the general offered no details.
But according to the author of this article, those details are available in Jewish publications, like “Yevreyskoye slovo” as well as regular Israeli news outlets for anyone who takes the time to read them. And he cites these sources extensively to show just how much Israeli aid both in equipment and training to Georgia there has been.
The more disturbing part of this attack, however, involves not what Israel has contributed to Georgia’s security but rather pictures highlighting Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili’s involvement with the Jewish community inside his own country and suggestions that his wife’s Jewish background is why Israel backed Georgia.
According to Savin, various Russian websites including the notorious have reported that among Saakashvili’s “ties” to the West are his “’western wife’ – Sandra Rulofs (also known as Sandra Eduardovna Rulovski or Rulovski). In all official biographies,” he said, Saakashvili’s wife is for some reason called Dutch, although Dutch is only her citizenship.”
“Her father,” the anti-Semitic writer continued, “migrated to Holland from the Czech Republic as a Jew, and her mother, according to some accounts is a Polish Jew and according to others a local Dutch one.” And all that, Savin said, is why a sign appeared in Jerusalem during the last Georgian elections urging all Georgian Jews there to “vote for Misha.”
“From all these facts,” Savin insists, “it becomes clear that in Georgia have come to power Georgian-speaking Jews who are supported by the United States and Israel with arms and money for the transparent goal of creating another source of tension in the Caucasus as an occasion for the interference of NATO” in that region’s affairs.
And he notes, that when what he calls “the Georgian attack on South Ossetia took place, a sizeable group of Israeli journalists, including from Ha’aretz and the Ynet portal arrived in Georgia to make sure that the world knew from the start precisely Georgia’s version of what was taking place rather than the truth.
Reasonable people would immediately dismiss this pastiche of salacious suggestions as dangerously wrong, but Russian xenophobes are not in that category. And in the overheated world they live in, at least some are likely to read the writings of Savin and others as being enough reason to attack Jews and well as Georgians living in the Russian Federation.
One can only hope that the Russian government will come to its senses and crack down on those who suggest attacking either, but so far, while Moscow has moved against those who criticize its policies in Georgia and elsewhere, it has done little or nothing to stop outlets like those expressed by Savin and his ilk that spew poisonous against Jews and other groups.

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