Vince Dhimos answered a question at Quora.
Why has Russia been, for decades, a traditional enemy of Israel? What did the Israelis ever do to them?
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Vince Dhimos, Editor-in-Chief at New Silk Strategies (2016-present)
This question is more of a statement and it is erroneous. Russia has never been a traditional enemy of Israel ever. Now if the querier had said Russia was a traditional enemy of the Jews, that may have been a bit closer to the truth, but also not very accurate. While the word pogrom is Russian in origin, several other countries waged pogroms against their Jews, including Poland, Ukraine, and Greece, the Soviet Union was the country that sent more of its people to Israel than any other. 20% of Israelis were born in Russia and many more are descended from them. Not only that, Putin frequently meets with Netanyahu and is so friendly with him that the Russian people are annoyed because of Israel’s mistreatment of the Palestinians and its attacks on Syria, as can be seen by reading the forums of Russian-language news sites.
And as for traditional enemies of the Jews, no nation under the sun has come anywhere near to Germany in terms of persecuting Jews. The Holocaust and concentration camps like Auschwitz were not located in Russia, of course, and Russia bitterly opposed Hitler’s persecution of the Jews. Soviet propaganda and literature established Russia as the anti-Nazi that treated its Jews with kindness. Auschwitz was in Poland, run by German Nazis, and who was it that liberated these Jewish prisoners? Yes, it was the Russians. So how are they traditional enemies of the Jews? Only in someone’s imagination, and the one mainly responsible is named below.
I think the question should have read “why has Russia been traditionally blamed as an enemy of the Jews?
This myth of Russia as an enemy of the Jews was first popularized by Charles Scofield, the author of the commentaries in the Scofield Bible. Scofield’s footnote at the bottom of the first page of Ezekiel 38 (p. 883) started a pernicious myth among English-speaking Christians, particularly Americans, who have a tendency to read the Bible through the prism of Bible “scholars,” and for decades, Scofield was their favourite. Some of them actually believed his notes were inspired by the Almighty. Although Protestants have long criticised the Catholics for insisting that only the priests were qualified to read and understand the Bible, Protestants quickly adopted the same kind of man-centred principles in their doctrines, holding mostly doctrines that some Bible “scholar” or other had invented. In 1909, on said p. 883, Scofield added a note to Ezekiel’s description of the battle of Armageddon, that he could not have written if he had lived through WW II by that time. Quote:
“That the primary reference is to the northern (European), headed up by Russia, all agree. ..... “Gog” is the prince, “Magog” is his land.”
This gave rise to the belief – which lasted in US Christian circles until far into the 20th Century and beyond, including the present day – that Gog and Magog – the villains who were to invade Israel in the future – were a man and a place, respectively, in Russia, making Russia an anti-Semitic villain. But Assyrian court records discovered decades after Scofield published his commentaries show that Gog and Magog were places in what is now Turkey. Thus, standard Christian views were forged not by God but by a fallible man and they stuck.
Scofield continues (remember, it was 1909 and the Holocaust in the Third Reich had not yet happened):
“Russia and the northern powers have been the latest persecutors of dispersed Israel.”
Note that Scofield does not say which of the northern powers he is referring to. Certainly, if he had had even the slightest inkling which ones they were, he would have mentioned them. In mentioning only Russia, he was infecting most of Protestantism with a pernicious fear and distrust of Russia that she in no way deserved.
Thus in one footnote, Scofield, through the fruits of his vivid imagination, has set the tone for US-led foreign policy for over a century to come, effectively endorsing a fear and distrust of Russia that extended into Western, particularly American, foreign policy. It is still very much in place.
This one man’s notes on Israel and its supposed future enemies has contributed greatly to the phenomenon we call Russophobia, which, BTW, got its start in his homeland, England, where it held sway by the middle of the 19th Century and was no doubt the primary impediment to relations between Europe and Russia. In fact, it seems likely that Scofield’s view of Russia was shaped not by his reading of the scriptures but by good old fashioned English Russophobia that predated his commentaries.
To get a snapshot of what Russia’s current views are on Judaism and the Jews, here is my translation of part of an article from the Kremlin site:
“The President of Russia [Putin] declared the need to erect a barrier to xenophobia and religious extremism in society.
“Russia is a unique country,” said the head of state, where for centuries Christianity, Judaism and Muslim cultures not only coexisted but were in harmony. According to the President, this fusion is the basis of the strength of the multinational Russian people.”
Contrast this with America, where, after many years of human relations based on race and religion-based foreign policy, little if anything has been learned. A president has forged and enforced an immigration policy denying travel to America to people because they are Muslims (but ironically, this is only enforced against Shiites, not the more dangerous Sunnis) and US planes have bombed and killed thousands of Muslims for reasons that no one has ever been able to adequately articulate, except that they were mostly Shiites and the US is partial to Sunnis (due to its alliance with Saudi). As for the Jews and Israel, there are no attempts to actually help Israel, for example. US policies simply give Israel what it thinks it wants, always by military means, thereby actually putting the people of Israel in grave danger. Pulling out of the Iran deal did nothing but infuriate the Iranians and Hezbollah and nothing to promote understanding. US tolerance for the abuse of Palestinians indulges Israel’s prejudices but does not help it learn how to deal with others in a civilized way. In the final analysis, these war-centred policies not only do not help Israel, they actually expose it to the gravest of dangers and therefore, ultimately are in fact anti-Semitic – the opposite of what they purport to be. The latest rumour that the US is preparing a strike on the Tehran nuclear power plant does not help bring peace to Israel, quite the opposite. If this happens, there is a good chance that Iran will strike Tel Aviv, and it may use enough missiles to swarm the Iron Dome air defences in such a way that many missiles will get through and actually destroy a large part of Tel Aviv. They may also strike a US aircraft carrier, but that may not be as much a concern to Trump as his obsession to give Israel what it demands (since I finished writing this, Trump has already called off a promised strike on Iran. Perhaps things are turning around). Everyone knows that if the Iran deal had been kept intact, none of this would be happening. It is a perverse kind of racism (Iranophobia) that threatens Israel and can easily get thousands of them killed. But in the final analysis, it is a matter of doing what they want, not giving them what they need, and though this policy seems, on the surface, like a love of Israel, it is merely an over-indulgence of the religious beliefs of the American “Christian” Zionists and of the Israelis, with little thought given to possible consequences. We are now left to wonder if Israel will go ahead and attack Iran on its own.
Russia too deals with Israel and never harshly, but at the same time, refuses to go along with the abuse of Palestinians and sets limits as to what Israel may bomb in Syria.
In my opinion, the only hope for peace in the Middle East is the possibility that the US will step aside and Russia will serve as an arbiter.
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