- Print This Post Print This Post

By John Helmer, Moscow

The title of an op-ed piece by a Moscow academic, published this week in Vzglyad, bellwether of Russian security analysts, requires reading between the lines. Every Russian knows how to do this since the tsar’s chancellery posted bulletins outside the Winter Palace on how well the Russian Navy was doing in battles against the Japanese at Port Arthur in 1904.

Neither the gap nor the remedy has been the point of any communiqué issued from the regular meetings of the Kremlin Security Council,  nor has it been discussed publicly in the state media, including the Valdai Club.

The Vzglyad headline refers to the one international conflict on which President Vladimir Putin has said so little since the start of his term, and done so much – this is Israel’s war against Palestine.

The gap was made visible once by the General Staff; that was in September 2018 after the Israel Air Force caused the shoot-down in Syria of a Russian Ilyushin-20M electronic reconnaissance aircraft (lead image),  and the killing of all fifteen crewmen on board. At that time the Russian military expressed a loss of confidence which had not been seen in public since President Boris Yeltsin countermanded orders for Russian military aid to Serbia under NATO bombing between March and June 1999, dismissing Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov on the US demand.   

Read the first report of the evidence in the Il-20 case on September 18, 2018,    and the second report on September 24, 2018.  The third report two months later revealed what happened after Putin had what the Kremlin spokesman called “a short talk” with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Paris on November 11, 2018. The next day, the Security Council notice of November 12 reported Putin had “informed the permanent members of the Security Council about several of his brief meetings on the sidelines of the events in Paris.”  

Four and a half years have elapsed since then. The Vzglyad headline of April 17 means there is a policy, and there is pressing reason of state to change it now. Inside the text, the point is expressed by its author more tentatively. “Perhaps it’s time to change the approach somewhat? After all, it no longer fully corresponds to both the changed regional situation and Russian national interests.”

Read the original here.  The translation into English has not been acknowledged or approved by Vzglyad or its author, Gevorg Mirzayan. The only editing to the original text are modifications of punctuation. Illustrations and their captions have been added for reference.

Source: https://vz.ru/

April 17, 2023
It’s time for Russia to change its position in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

By Gevorg Mirzayan
Associate Professor of the Department of Political Science of the Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is once again experiencing a stage of aggravation. Clashes between Israeli and Palestinian policemen on the Temple Mount — where the Wailing Wall, sacred to Jews, and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, sacred to Muslims, are located —  turned into real fighting,  including bombing of the Gaza Strip and rocket attacks from the Strip on Israeli cities.

And this is not the end of the holy month of Ramadan, on the last Friday of which the Islamic world celebrates Al-Quds Day, that is, Jerusalem Day. Introduced by the late Supreme Ayatollah of Iran Ruhollah Khomeini in 1982, this day is actively used in the Muslim world to condemn the methods and consequences of the Israeli occupation of Jerusalem – that is, to express solidarity with the people of Palestine. In practice, this solidarity is expressed in loud statements by leaders, anti–Israeli rallies and other demonstrations – the exploitation by the Israelis, who have regularly violated the rights of the Palestinians, has always given enough reasons for loud words.

Until recently, Russia, a country with a large Muslim community, refrained from celebrating Al-Quds Day. At best, the leaders of Russian Muslims have spoken about  the suffering of the Palestinian people,  and academic conferences on the Middle East were held. And this was quite understandable: Moscow adhered to an equidistant policy on the Palestinian issue, trying to maintain relations with both Israel and the Arab world at the same time.

May 16, 2021:  https://johnhelmer.net/

But perhaps it’s time to change the approach somewhat? After all, it no longer fully corresponds to both the changed regional situation and Russian national interests.

By changing the regional situation, we mean, first of all, the processes associated with the Iranian-Saudi normalization. Representatives of Tehran and Riyadh did not just shake hands after the talks in Beijing. They began a real process of resolving bilateral contradictions (in Syria, Yemen, etc.). And this means not only the collapse of Tel Aviv’s (and Washington’s) strategy of using Saudi Arabia for a war with Iran, but also the consolidation of the two leaders of the Islamic world on an issue that concerns the entire Islamic world. That is, simply put, the Palestinian issue.

At the same time, this issue is, in fact, an element of an even larger trend – the struggle of developing countries against the neo-colonialism of the West. A trend in which Russia is not just trying to embed its own security in Ukraine, but also to embed from the position of the new leader of the entire anti-colonial movement. And the leader must be ahead, including in terms of rhetoric.

Moscow needs this leadership from the point of view of its national interests. And, it would seem, they contradict another interest – the policy of neutrality, of equidistance. However, this policy was necessary — necessary and beneficial precisely until Israel took a very peculiar position with regard to the Russian Special Military Operation (SMO). This is the position of the blackmailer.

As part of this position, Tel Aviv is supplying the Kiev regime with various kinds of ordnance and even weapons, but so far is refraining from supplies of high–tech systems. Tel Aviv explicitly says that its decision on these supplies will depend on the level of Russian-Iranian cooperation. Well, well. Or else this depends on the mood of a particular Israeli leader – after all, there is no consensus position on this issue in Israel. If the current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opposes supplies, then his predecessor Yair Lapid (the same one who at the beginning of the conflict accused the Russian army of war crimes in Ukraine) was inclined in favour of supplies. In spite of the fact that the ideological descendants of those who committed the Holocaust are in power in Kiev.

Israel’s President Chaim Herzog (left) meeting Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky (right) in Kiev on October 5, 2021. “How can you not help the victims of such aggression," Zelenksy told Herzog: “I don't how to answer the questions that I always get about how has Israel helped and what else can Israel do.I am grateful to the people of Israel. I am grateful for the sincere and emotional support to the people of Ukraine...but we would like to also get support from your government.” Naftali Bennett was Israeli prime minister at the time.  Yair Lapid was alternate prime minister and foreign minister then; he became prime minister between July and December 2022, and was succeeded by Benjamin Netanyahu on December 29, 2022.

From a pragmatic point of view, Israel’s position can, of course, be understood – and even excused in some respects. First, Israel’s security largely depends on the United States. Yes, Tel Aviv (unlike, for example, Tokyo) has nuclear weapons. But recent conflicts show that the presence of the ‘last argument of kings’ is not enough to wage large conventional wars. Israel needs an American army, weapons, intelligence resources – and as a payment for access to all this, the Israeli leadership is required to support the foreign policy of the White House. Including in the Ukrainian direction.

Secondly, Israel categorically does not like the current Russian-Iranian rapprochement. Yes, Tel Aviv understands that it is primarily due to Iran’s willingness to provide direct military-technical assistance to Russia within its framework — and Moscow cannot throw away friendship with such countries. Yes, in Tel Aviv they understand that even the SMO did not force Russia to abandon one of its key foreign policy postulates: ‘Moscow is friends with those who are ready to be friends with it, but this friendship is not directed against those who are not hostile to Russia.’ Based on this concept, Russian-Iranian cooperation is not directed against countries which are friendly or at least neutral towards Russia.

Tel Aviv understands all this, but believes that circumstances have changed. That Russian-Iranian military-technical cooperation (forced or not, it doesn’t matter) reaches such a high level that it can no longer but threaten the security of Israel. In particular, according to experts, Iran, with the help of Russian specialists, has created a very powerful layered air defense system, which has reduced the already small chances of Israel bombing Iranian nuclear facilities.

However, Russia, also understanding Israel’s position, can draw the following conclusions from this.  Firstly, Israel supports the Kiev regime. Secondly, the level of this support will grow (partly due to US pressure, and partly due to the objective development of the Russian-Iranian partnership). Thirdly, it is pointless to make any concessions to the blackmailer.

Soviet poster of 1978. The text says: “In the Israel occupied territory, Palestinians fighters against aggression and for the sacred right of their people to have their own independent state are arrested and kept in jail."
In regular polling by the Levada Centre of Moscow since 2006, between 2% and 5% of a nationwide sample of Russians has identified Israel as one of the top-5 allies of Russia; and the same proportion has identified Israel as one of Russia’s top-5 enemies.  The pollster reports regular surveys showing Russian attitudes towards Palestine growing more positive towards the Palestinians, more hostile to the Israelis. Follow this here. For more on the evolution of Al Quds Day, read this.

That is why, perhaps, the time has come to take a new position on the Palestinian issue. To take the celebration of Al-Quds Day to a new level, as well as to take a more pro-Palestinian position in the Middle East conflict. To stand on the side of those who help Russia within the framework of their own interests (Iran, Saudi Arabia) against those who help our enemies. And thereby to send a very clear signal to the world – a signal that Russia will treat its partners exactly as they treat it. To help supporters – and not to act in the interests of opponents.

Leave a Reply