Tuesday, April 26, 2016


by Tom Gross - 24th April 2016

For the full article go to: http://tinyurl.com/jhbgtt4

Jews in Israel and around the world have been celebrating Passover these past two days.

It is, of course, remarkable given the course of anti-Semitism, “the longest hatred” as it is often called, that the presidents of the U.S. and Russia both now give official public Passover greetings.

However, what is being noted by Jews in Israel and elsewhere is that Putin’s message is specifically Jewish, whereas Obama chooses to use Passover to give a more universal message. There is a perception (whether fair or not) that Putin (whatever else his flaws) has in some ways been more friendly and understanding of Jewish concerns than Obama has. As was noted in this dispatch last year, Putin has gone out of his way to make sure Russia enjoys good relations with Israel:

“Putin has determinedly kept the channels to Israel open, making a point to personally visit Israel and in June 2012, Israel was the first country he visited after his election. He frequently speaks warmly about the Jewish state, expressing pride that it contains the largest diaspora of former Russian citizens. At the Western Wall, accompanied by Russian Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar, he donned a kippah, which would undoubtedly have made his Bolshevik predecessors turn in their graves. He also seemed quite indifferent to the rage this created among his Arab allies.”

Only last Thursday (April 21), Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was again in Moscow holding consultations with Putin (mainly concerning Syria, Iran and Hizbullah), Israeli President Reuven Rivlin was also in Moscow only a few weeks ago, and Israeli leaders seem to be invited to Moscow more than to Washington these days. (Putin again invited Netanyahu to visit Moscow in June to mark 25 years since the reestablishment of diplomatic relations.)

While Obama has kept his distance from Israel, (he has made only one brief visit there during his two terms in office, he has been, for example, to Saudi Arabia four times and visited countries such as Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, and Myanmar more than once), Israel has been forging ever closer relations with countries in Asia (including some Arab ones), Africa and elsewhere.

Just this month, leaders from China and Singapore, among others, have visited Jerusalem. (U.S. Senators and other U.S. officials continue to visit Jerusalem regularly, just not the president.) I also attach below remarks made by Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on his visit to Israel last Tuesday April 19 (which also include Passover greetings). Singapore has long enjoyed close relations to Israel, especially in the fields of business, water management, biotechnology, and cyber security.

Trade between the two nations reached $1.35 billion in 2015, which was greater than trade between Israel and most European countries. (Several senior Singapore government security officials have for many years subscribed to this Middle East email list.)


Video of the week: Israeli Innovations in Life Sciences; http://tinyurl.com/grsxg42

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