The economic, social and political upheavel and the rising tide of racism in Russia have created the psychological environment for a Jewish exodus. And the Israeli government - swiftly exploiting their collective fear - has put in place a highly publicised programme for a massive emigration of Russian Jews to Israel, while ‘president’ Yassir Arafat, not to be outdone, opens a casino for their entertainment in Areha (Jericho).
One of the most effective criticisms of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s relentless programme of building new settlements, not only in the West Bank but also in East Jerusalem, has been the argument that the old ones are half-empty, anyway. His equally relentless campaign of demolishing Palestinian homes has been criticised on the grounds that it puts at risk the so-called ‘peace process.’ Netanyahu - who has been at pains to prove that Israel can have the fruits of the Oslo accords while withdrawing the crumbs they throw the Palestinians - senses he can now arrange a new wave of Jewish immigration which will justify both programmes in the eyes of all Jews.
He also appears to believe that if the scale of the immigration is massive enough it will have the political and financial backing, not only of the US but also of the wealthy Jewish diaspora, and will bring nearer the realization of the Israeli dream of an exclusively Jewish Jerusalem.
Last May, for instance, the US congress wrote a letter to the white house saying that Israel should not accept the US withdrawal plan (from 13 percent of the West Bank) which one member described as ‘nothing short of extortion.’ The plan - first floated by the Clinton administration to reduce the area Israel must vacate under the Oslo accords and to force Arafat to crackdown on Hamas - is a convenient cover for Netanyahu’s diabolical schemes and Arafat’s capitulation.
Even the so-called Israeli ‘doves,’ such as former prime minister Shimon Peres, have now come around to supporting the Israeli government’s building programme in East Jerusalem. Peres, architect of the Oslo accords and personal friend of Arab leaders like Morocco’s king Hasan, Jordan’s king Husain and Egyptian president Husni Mubarak, has declared his backing for Ehud Olmert’s re-election as the rightwing mayor of Jerusalem.
Olmert - the driving force behind the Israeli government’s decision to build Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem - declared his candidacy on October 1 in the November election. He has now the support of senior Labour party ‘doves,’ who previously criticized his policies.
Even the United Nations maintains secret links with Israeli intelligence, as its Iraqi weapons inspection team confirmed recently. Richard Butler, head of the team officially admitted at the beginning of October that his organization had received intelligence from Israel. His admission followed the disclosure by Scott Ritter, a former American Marine who resigned as a UN weapons inspector in the summer, that he had worked closely with Israeli intelligence.
In addition to this comprehensive support for his policies, Netanyahu has the advantage of a corresponding disarray in the ranks of Muslims. No Muslim country is threatening war to stop the annexation of Jerusalem. In fact those who are threatening war are threatening to attack other Muslim States. Turkey, which has a military pact with Israel, is warning Syria to withdraw its support for Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) or else.
In September, president Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan signed a series of accords with Netanyahu and agreed that his country and Israel were under threat from ‘fundamentalist’ regimes like Iran’s. Netanyahu said at a press conference in Jerusalem attended by Karimov that ‘Israel and Uzbekistan belonged to a group of countries threatened by fundamentalism.’ He was so certain that Muslim dictators privately agreed with him that he called for the establishment of an ‘anti-Islamist front.’
Given all these advantages, all that Netanyahu needs to implement his plans is massive Jewish immigration. And the spectacular collapse of mighty Russia seems to have provided an opportunity he seems to have grasped with both hands. Russia’s collapse is so complete that it cannot pay its own civil servants, troops and pensioners. It is now dependent on IMF loans to service its economy, and has agreed to a US plan to maintain its own deteriorating nuclear installations and weaponry.
This massive failure is being blamed on Russian Jews, who form the core of the new financial and banking elite. A large number of the cabinet and senior government officials are also Jewish. The new prime minister, Yevgeny Primakov is also Jewish - the first to achieve such high office. No wonder Netanyahu immediately congratulated him on his appointment in mid-September.
The economic collapse has made racism respectable, and the majority of Jews having lost their livelihoods, like other Russians, and faced with this new fascism, are suddenly conscious of a dire threat to their identity as Jews and are preparing to draw on the help of their fellow Jews in Israel and elsewhere. And it is no accident that Hebrew classes have mushroomed all over Russia since the economic difficulties.
The comments of two of many Russian Jews interviewed recently by the western media come to mind. A middle-aged man told the BBC World Service on September 17: ‘Since Moses, we have been on the move, and we are ready to be on the move again.’ And an 18-year-old man said: I’ve no money. I put all my money in the bank after selling my house. The bank has crashed and I must go to Israel.’
According to Netanyahu, the turmoil presents ‘a unique’ opportunity to revive largescale emigration from the former Soviet Union. He set up a ministerial committee in September to draw up programmes. And the cabinet approved in principle emergency funding on September 13.
‘We decided,’ Netanyahu said, ‘that any programmes, recommended by that Committee and approved by the cabinet, to induce, promote, and encourage massive immigration will receive all the funding they require, budgetary constraints notwithstanding.’
‘The reason is simple. It’s what we are here for: the ingathering of the exiles. Having renewed Jewish sovereignty in the land of the Jews, we want to bring Jews to Eretz Yisrael.’
But Netanyahu is not the only Israeli leader who is calling for massive Jewish immigration to realize the zionist dream of creating ‘Greater Israel.’ President Ezer Weizman made a renewed call on the Jewish diaspora to emigrate to Israel during his Jewish new year address in late September. Weizman, like Peres a ‘dove’ who publicaly accuses Netanyahu of wrecking the ‘peace process,’ said in his New Year message:
‘Part of realizing the Zionist dream is for our brothers and sisters around the world to join us. Not only will you be strengthening our country, but you will also be ensuring the survival of your future generations.’
But president Yasir Arafat is ready for the Zionist conspirators. The wily survivor has a diabolical plan to finesse their plot. Since casinos are banned in Israel for religious reasons, he has opened one - owned by Palestinian and Austrian investors - to turn Israelis into gamblers and take their money in the process.
Hamas has dismissed the Oasis Casino as ‘Satan’s casino, a casino of scum and betrayal, degenerates and lawlessness.’ Shaikh Ahmad Yassin has described it as ‘a tragedy in the history of Palestine and a black spot in the history of the Palestine people.’
What will president Arafat not do for money?
Muslimedia: November 1-15, 1998