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Is Russia the safest country in Europe for Jews?

Norwegian study confirms far lower incidents of anti-semitic violence in Russia than France, UK, Germany, Norway, Sweden and Denmark

Alexander Mercouris

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The present controversy stirred up by the Russia Insider article on the subject of the relationship of the Jewish people and Russia (about which see my discussion here) by reviving old stories about the attitudes towards Jews of the tsarist authorities and during the Russian Civil War, has diverted attention from the actual reality, which is that Jewish people in Russia are safe and welcome, are now significantly safer in Russia than in the supposedly mature democracies of Western Europe, and that there is no climate of hostility in Russia towards Jews at all.

Confirmation of this comes not from ‘Russian state propaganda’.  It comes from a recent (June 2017) and detailed academic study of instances of anti-semitism in Russia, which also looks into similar such instances in France, the UK, Germany, Sweden, Norway and Denmark.

This study was carried out by the University of Oslo’s Center for Research on Extremism and its Department of Literature, Area Studies and European Languages.

Its conclusions are that there was virtually no anti-semitic violence in Russia during the period covered by the study (2005 to 2015) and that Jewish people in Russia are now physically safer than in any of the mature democracies of Western Europe covered by the study, and that attitudes towards Jewish people in Russia are strongly positive.

Russia

Russia clearly stands out with a very low number of registered incidents of antisemitic violence in proportion to its large Jewish population (approximately 190,000). Only 33 incidents were found for the period 2005–2015. We must assume that a number of incidents have occurred without being reported in the media and thus not registered in the SOVA Center’s database, but according to Aleksandr Verkhovsky, head of the SOVA Center, the level of antisemitism-related violence in Russia is clearly far lower than in Western European countries.

It is also notable that no reports could be found of Russian Jews feeling forced to conceal their identity in public.

Even though the data for incidents in Russia are not strictly comparable, it appears safe to say that exposure to antisemitic violence among Jews in Russia is clearly far lower than in Western European countries.

The study found that the majority of acts of anti-semitic violence against Jewish people in the mature democracies of Western Europe are carried out by Muslim immigrants.

However as the study points out, Russia has by far the biggest Muslim population in Europe, which argues against an automatic link between Islamic beliefs and anti semitism.

The FRA survey data and other reports suggest that individuals (usually young men) with backgrounds from Muslim countries stand out among perpetrators of antisemitic violence in Western European countries. Note, however, that we do not necessarily see more antisemitic violence in countries with many Muslims and many Jews.

Russia has Europe’s largest Muslim population and the continent’s third-largest Jewish population, yet, as noted, incidents of antisemitic violence occur far less frequently there than in Western Europe. Moreover, the violence that does occur in Russia is committed not by Muslims, but by right-wing extremists. The task of explaining this variation should be taken up in future studies.

In passing, the also study hints that the German authorities are deliberately downplaying the extent to which anti-semitic violence in Germany is being caused by immigrants from Muslim countries by indiscriminately reporting incidents of anti-semitic violence in Germany as the product of right wing extremism.

When we compare German respondents’ perceptions of perpetrators with German police data on perpetrator motives, a striking discrepancy emerges.

In sharp contrast to the FRA survey, German police statistics suggest that far-right actors commit most of the violence (see Figure 13).

How can this be explained?

Perhaps the share of right-wing perpetrators is in fact larger than indicated by the results of the FRA survey.

We could also be looking at a categorisation problem. Could it be that German police considers antisemitism a right-wing type of ideology and thus categorises most antisemitic attacks as right-wing, regardless of the perpetrator’s ethnic or religious background?

Another issue is the nature of violent incidents categorised by German authorities as anti-Israeli and not antisemitic.

In 2014, German police registered violent anti-Israeli incidents (most of them perpetrated by “foreigners”), and one of them, controversially, involved the fire-bombing of a synagogue.

The question is how many of the other “anti-Israeli” incidents should really be considered acts of antisemitism. More research is required to clarify this issue.

The British Jewish writer Melanie Phillips has suggested that the reason for the far fewer instances of anti-semitic violence in Russia, and for the far lower prevalence of anti-semitic attitudes there, is the policy of zero tolerance the Russian authorities have towards such violence and such attitudes.

There may be some truth to this.  However in a sense that simply proves the point: there in no conflict between Jews and Russians in Russia, the Russian authorities far from being anti-semitic are totally opposed to anti-semitism and indeed to racism generally, and apart from a tiny minority of extremists they are supported in this attitude by the whole of Russian society.

As Dmitry Babich rightly says in his recent article for RussiaFeed, it is simply wrong and misleading to say otherwise:

Nothing To Do With Russia

Attempts to connect Mr. Bausman’s article to our country or to its president are not just missing the point – they are outright deceitful. Mr. Bausman’s article was published on his own private media resource, for which he is trying to get donations from the public. Mr. Bausman’s anti-Semitic article has nothing to do with Putin or with the “atmosphere in Putin’s Russia” (which is not anti-Semitic and not xenophobic in general).

Moreover, it has nothing to do with the Russian intellectual tradition. Please note that no reference to Russian thinkers was made in Mr. Bausman’s article, except for a few illustrations from the legacy of the late Russian painter Ilya Glazunov, who dismissed accusations of anti-Semitism during his lifetime, but who died last year and so can defend neither his reputation nor for his copyright.

As it happens President Putin – who is a practising Orthodox Christian – is known to be strongly philo-semitic, and his relationship with the leaders of Russia’s Jewish community is excellent.

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Russia’s Lukoil Halts Oil Swaps In Venezuela After U.S. Sanctions

Under the new wide-ranging U.S. sanctions, Venezuela will not be able to import U.S. naphtha which it has typically used to dilute its heavy crude grades.

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Via Oilprice.com


Litasco, the international trading arm of Russia’s second-biggest oil producer Lukoil, stopped its oil swaps deals with Venezuela immediately after the U.S. imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s oil industry and state oil firm PDVSA, Lukoil’s chief executive Vagit Alekperov said at an investment forum in Russia.

Russia, which stands by Nicolas Maduro in the ongoing Venezuelan political crisis, has vowed to defend its interests in Venezuela—including oil interests—within the international law using “all mechanisms available to us.”

Because of Moscow’s support for Maduro, the international community and market analysts are closely watching the relationship of Russian oil companies with Venezuela.

“Litasco does not work with Venezuela. Before the restrictions were imposed, Litasco had operations to deliver oil products and to sell oil. There were swap operations. Today there are none, since the sanctions were imposed,” Lukoil’s Alekperov said at the Russian Investment Forum in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

Another Russian oil producer, Gazprom Neft, however, does not see major risks for its oil business in Venezuela, the company’s chief executive officer Alexander Dyukov said at the same event.

Gazprom Neft has not supplied and does not supply oil products to Venezuela needed to dilute the thick heavy Venezuelan oil, Dyukov said, noting that the Latin American country hadn’t approached Gazprom Neft for possible supply of oil products for diluents.

Under the new wide-ranging U.S. sanctions, Venezuela will not be able to import U.S. naphtha which it has typically used to dilute its heavy crude grades. Analysts expect that a shortage of diluents could accelerate beginning this month the already steadily declining Venezuelan oil production and exports.

Venezuela’s crude oil production plunged by another 59,000 bpd from December 2018 to stand at just 1.106 million bpd in January 2019, OPEC’s secondary sources figures showed in the cartel’s closely watched Monthly Oil Market Report (MOMR) this week.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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Germany Pulls Rank on Macron and American Energy Blackmail

Why France’s Macron, at the last minute, attempted to undermine the project by placing stiffer regulations is a curious question.

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Authored by Finian Cunningham via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


It was billed politely as a Franco-German “compromise” when the EU balked at adopting a Gas Directive which would have undermined the Nord Stream 2 project with Russia.

Nevertheless, diplomatic rhetoric aside, Berlin’s blocking last week of a bid by French President Emmanuel Macron to impose tougher regulations on the Nord Stream 2 gas project was without doubt a firm rebuff to Paris.

Macron wanted to give the EU administration in Brussels greater control over the new pipeline running from Russia to Germany. But in the end the so-called “compromise” was a rejection of Macron’s proposal, reaffirming Germany in the lead role of implementing the Nord Stream 2 route, along with Russia.

The $11-billion, 1,200 kilometer pipeline is due to become operational at the end of this year. Stretching from Russian mainland under the Baltic Sea, it will double the natural gas supply from Russia to Germany. The Berlin government and German industry view the project as a vital boost to the country’s ever-robust economy. Gas supplies will also be distributed from Germany to other European states. Consumers stand to gain from lower prices for heating homes and businesses.

Thus Macron’s belated bizarre meddling was rebuffed by Berlin. A rebuff was given too to the stepped-up pressure from Washington for the Nord Stream 2 project to be cancelled. Last week, US ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell and two other American envoys wrote an op-ed for Deutsche Welle in which they accused Russia of trying to use “energy blackmail” over Europe’s geopolitics.

Why France’s Macron, at the last minute, attempted to undermine the project by placing stiffer regulations is a curious question. Those extra regulations if they had been imposed would have potentially made the Russian gas supply more expensive. As it turns out, the project will now go-ahead without onerous restrictions.

In short, Macron and the spoiling tactics of Washington, along with EU states hostile to Russia, Poland and the Baltic countries, have been put in their place by Germany and its assertion of national interests of securing economical and abundant gas supply from Russia. Other EU member states that backed Berlin over Nord Stream 2 were Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Greece and the Netherlands.

Washington’s claims that Nord Stream 2 would give Russia leverage of Europe’s security have been echoed by Poland and the Baltic states. Poland, and non-EU Ukraine, stand to lose out billions of dollars-worth of transit fees. Such a move, however, is the prerogative of Germany and Russia to find a more economical mode of supply. Besides, what right has Ukraine to make demands on a bilateral matter that is none of its business? Kiev’s previous bad faith over not paying gas bills to Russia disbars it from reasonable opinion.

Another factor is the inherent Russophobia of Polish and Baltic politicians who view everything concerning Russia through a prism of paranoia.

For the Americans, it is obviously a blatant case of seeking to sell their own much more expensive natural gas to Europe’s giant energy market – in place of Russia’s product. Based on objective market figures, Russia is the most competitive supplier to Europe. The Americans are therefore trying to snatch a strategic business through foul means of propaganda and political pressure. Ironically, the US German ambassador Richard Grenell and the other American envoys wrote in their recent oped: “Europe must retain control of its energy security.”

Last month, Grenell threatened German and European firms involved in the construction of Nord Stream 2 that they could face punitive American sanctions in the future. Evidently, it is the US side that is using “blackmail” to coerce others into submission, not Russia.

Back to Macron. What was he up to in his belated spoiling tactics over Nord Stream 2 and in particular the attempted problems being leveled for Germany if the extra regulations had been imposed?

It seems implausible that Macron was suddenly finding a concern for Poland and the Baltic states in their paranoia over alleged Russian invasion.

Was Macron trying to garner favors from the Trump administration? His initial obsequious rapport with Trump has since faded from the early days of Macron’s presidency in 2017. By doing Washington’s bidding to undermine the Nord Stream 2 project was Macron trying to ingratiate himself again?

The contradictions regarding Macron are replete. He is supposed to be a champion of “ecological causes”. A major factor in Germany’s desire for the Nord Stream 2 project is that the increased gas supply will reduce the European powerhouse’s dependence on dirty fuels of coal, oil and nuclear power. By throwing up regulatory barriers, Macron is making it harder for Germany and Europe to move to cleaner sources of energy that the Russian natural gas represents.

Also, if Macron had succeeded in imposing tougher regulations on the Nord Stream 2 project it would have inevitably increased the costs to consumers for gas bills. This is at a time when his government is being assailed by nationwide Yellow Vest protests over soaring living costs, in particular fuel-price hikes.

A possible factor in Macron’s sabotage bid in Germany’s Nord Stream 2 plans was his chagrin over Berlin’s rejection of his much-vaunted reform agenda for the Eurozone bloc within the EU. Despite Macron’s very public amity with Chancellor Angela Merkel, Berlin has continually knocked back the French leader’s ambitions for reform.

It’s hard to discern what are the real objectives of Macron’s reforms. But they seem to constitute a “banker’s charter”. Many eminent German economists have lambasted his plans, which they say will give more taxpayer-funded bailouts to insolvent banks. They say Macron is trying to move the EU further away from the social-market economy than the bloc already has moved.

What Macron, an ex-Rothschild banker, appears to be striving for is a replication of his pro-rich, anti-worker policies that he is imposing on France, and for these policies to be extended across the Eurozone. Berlin is not buying it, realizing such policies will further erode the social fabric. This could be the main reason why Macron tried to use the Nord Stream 2 project as leverage over Berlin.

In the end, Macron and Washington – albeit working for different objectives – were defeated in their attempts to sabotage the emerging energy trade between Germany, Europe and Russia. Nord Stream 2, as with Russia’s Turk Stream to the south of Europe, seems inevitable by sheer force of natural partnership.

On this note, the Hungarian government’s comments this week were apt. Budapest accused some European leaders and the US of “huge hypocrisy” in decrying association with Russia over energy trade. Macron has previously attended an economics forum in St Petersburg, and yet lately has sought to “blackmail” and disrupt Germany over its trade plans with Russia.

As for the Americans, their arrant hypocrisy is beyond words. As well as trying to dictate to Europe about “market principles” and “energy security”, it was reported this week that Washington is similarly demanding Iraq to end its import of natural gas from neighboring Iran.

Iraq is crippled by electricity and power shortages because of the criminal war that the US waged on that country from 2003-2011 which destroyed much of the country’s infrastructure. Iraq critically needs Iranian gas supplies to keep the lights and fans running. Yet, here we have the US now dictating to Iraq to end its lifeline import of Iranian fuel in order to comply with the Trump administration’s sanctions against Tehran. Iraq is furious at the latest bullying interference by Washington in its sovereign affairs.

The hypocrisy of Washington and elitist politicians like Emmanuel Macron has become too much to stomach. Maybe Germany and others are finally realizing who the charlatans are.

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Russia Readies Own Web To Survive Global Internet Shutdown

Russia is simultaneously building a mass censorship system similar to that seen in China.

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Via Zerohedge


Russian authorities and major telecom operators are preparing to disconnect the country from the world wide web as part of an exercise to prepare for future cyber attacks, Russian news agency RosBiznesKonsalting (RBK) reported last week.

The purpose of the exercise is to develop a threat analysis and provide feedback to a proposed law introduced in the Russian Parliament last December.

The draft law, called the Digital Economy National Program, requires Russian internet service providers (ISP) to guarantee the independence of the Russian Internet (Runet) in the event of a foreign attack to sever the country’s internet from the world wide web.

Telecom operators (MegaFon, VimpelCom (Beeline brand), MTS, Rostelecom and others) will have to introduce the “technical means” to re-route all Russian internet traffic to exchange points approved by the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media (Roskomnadzor), Russia’s federal executive body responsible for censorship in media and telecommunications.

Roskomnazor will observe all internet traffic and make sure data between Russian users stays within the country’s borders, and is not re-routed abroad.

The exercise is expected to occur before April 1, as Russian authorities have not given exact dates.

The measures described in the law include Russia constructing its internet system, known as Domain Name System (DNS), so it can operate independently from the rest of the world.

Across the world, 12 companies oversee the root servers for DNS and none are located in Russia. However, there are copies of Russia’s core internet address book inside the country suggesting its internet could keep operating if the US cut it off.

Ultimately, the Russian government will require all domestic traffic to pass through government-controlled routing points. These hubs will filter traffic so that data sent between Russians internet users work seamlessly, but any data to foreign computers would be rejected.

Besides protecting its internet, Russia is simultaneously building a mass censorship system similar to that seen in China.

“What Russia wants to do is to bring those router points that handle data entering or exiting the country within its borders and under its control- so that it can then pull up the drawbridge, as it were, to external traffic if it’s under threat – or if it decides to censor what outside information people can access.

China’s firewall is probably the world’s best known censorship tool and it has become a sophisticated operation. It also polices its router points, using filters and blocks on keywords and certain websites and redirecting web traffic so that computers cannot connect to sites the state does not wish Chinese citizens to see,” said BBC.

The Russian government started preparations for creating its internet several years ago. Russian officials expect 95% of all internet traffic locally by next year.

As for Russia unplugging its internet from the rest of the world for an upcoming training exercise, well, this could potentially anger Washington because it is one less sanction that can keep Moscow contained.

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