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Dark Days Ahead for the Jews of Russia?

As we noted yesterday, The Fellowship continues its Freedom Flights, allowing Ukrainian Jews to make aliyah (immigrate to Israel) to escape the war and anti-Semitism they face in Ukraine. Today, Commentary’s Seth Mandel notes that an all-too-familiar anti-Jewish sentiment is growing in nearby Russia:

The ultimate goal of state censorship is self-censorship among the citizenry. If you can get the people to police themselves, and each other, it takes part of the burden off the state and also makes people complicit in their own oppression. And so it’s disturbing to see things take this turn in Putin’s Russia. As the New York Times reports, Moscow bookstores removed from their shelves–voluntarily (sort of)–their copies of Maus, the pathbreaking graphic novel of Nazi crimes against the Jews. It’s the “voluntarily” part of this that stands out, and makes it clear that Putinism has not been, and will not be, good for the Jews of Russia…

Putin’s war on Ukraine scattered the remaining Jewish community in the war zone. His explicitly militaristic nationalism feeds a state-sponsored xenophobia that always has and always will mark Jews as outsiders and a “nation apart.” And of course, “fascist” is in the eye of the beholder; as Paul Goble reported in late March:

Even as Moscow denounces anything it views as a manifestation of fascism abroad and prepares to mark the anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany, the Russian authorities are hosting tomorrow a meeting of Europe’s neo-Nazis, extreme nationalists, and anti-Semites who share one thing in common – their unqualified support for Vladimir Putin.

Such cultivation and tolerance of hateful anti-Semitic ideologues is par for the course in Putin’s Russia. He isn’t an anti-fascist; he’s merely against the wrong kind of “fascists”–who are often not fascists at all. It’s a catchall term for Putin’s enemies.

And it fools too many people, especially those who want to be fooled. But the Jews of Russia and its near-abroad cannot afford to let themselves be fooled. They probably don’t need to be reminded that the trajectory of Putinist nationalism has an all-too-familiar feel to it. And Putin shows no indication of changing direction.

Tags: Russia , Anti-Semitism

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