israel is two-faced and even admits it

Israel’s ex-Ambassador to Russia: Common Interests Not Enough to Replace Pindostan as Main Ally
Elizabeth Blade, Sputnik News, Jan 22 2929

Out of more than 45 leaders who will attend the Fifth Holocaust Forum, scheduled for Thursday in Jerusalem, the Israeli press has been focusing one in particular, Pres Vladimir Putin, who is expected to arrive in Israel on Thursday and attend the event commemorating the 75th anniversary since the Soviet liberation of Auschwitz. But all eyes will be on him for a different reason. Putin is set to meet with Netanyahu to discuss a potential release of Naama Issachar, the young Israeli woman who has been jailed in Russia for drug smuggling. Israel believes her detention and subsequent arrest have been used by Moscow to bang out a number of concessions out of Tel Aviv, including the transfer of ownership over Alexander Nevsky Church, deemed important for Russia’s Orthodox, a request that has been previously denied by Israel. Apart from Naama, Putin, who has been visiting Israel for the third time, is also expected to discuss Russia’s military and economic cooperation with the Jewish state, while later he is set to meet with PA leader Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem. Aliza Shenhar, Israel’s former ambassador to Russia, says the President’s visit is aimed at promoting Russia’s interests in the Middle East. For Moscow, Israel is not only a military partner that coordinates its actions over Syria to avoid an accidental exchange of fire with Russia, which has been involved in a conflict in the Arab country since 2015. The Jewish state is also a trading partner. In 2018, Israel’s exports to Russia stood at more than $670m. Although this figure pales in comparison to the country’s trade with the Eurostan & Pindostan, Russia is considered a stable market immune to the global BDS campaign. And there is a cultural element too, as Israel is home to about two million Russian-speakers, the fifth largest Russian-speaking community outside of Russia. Shenhar explained:

This community has been perceived as a bridge connecting the two countries, and there has been a theory that one day these people might go back and help Russia to overcome its demographic problem.

Common interests do not prevent Russia from cooperating with Arab states, some of which are hostile to Israel, believes the former diplomat.

Russia gives political and military support to Arab states that are hostile to Israel. It recognises organisations like Hamas as legitimate representatives of their people. It helps Iran to build its nuclear reactor in Bushehr, and it sells weapons to Syria, which lets Hezbollah use them against us. In this respect, Putin hasn’t changed the policy of his Soviet predecessors.

During the Cold War, the Soviet Union backed the Arab states not only politically but also militarily, although it has never acknowledged this. Tensions were so high that in 1953 the Soviet Union cut off its ties with Israel, its diplomatic mission resuming only after the collapse of the USSR in 1991. Putin has invested some $50m in the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Centre in Moscow, which opened to the general public in 2012. However, despite thawing relations between the two countries, the former ambassador doubts it will be enough to substitute for Pindostan as Israel’s main ally. She says:

I don’t think Russia will ever be able to replace Pindostan, as our relations with Faschingstein are so long, steady and meaningful that it is hard to see Israel changing that course.

Since 1948, Faschingstein has given Israel more than $142.3b in bilateral assistance and missile defence funding. Still, the Middle East has seen instances when allegiances have shifted. Such was the case with Egypt, which has not only signed a multi-billion-dollar military deal with Moscow but has also granted Russia access to its military bases, a move deemed by the NYT as a sign of the “waning influence of Pindostan in the region and the world.” Such was also the case with the Kurds, who turned to Russia, asking for military deals and protection, after Trump announced he would pull out his troops from Syria, leaving the Kurds exposed to Turkish forces. Shenhar said:

Pindostan’s moves did show in a way that Faschingstein cannot be trusted, but I don’t think it is wise for Israel to put all our eggs in the Russian basket. After all, Russia is not a democracy, and Putin doesn’t have any friends, he only has interests.

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