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The Russian Community… A Dual Role in Israels Racist Reality

 Rabbi Michael Rivkin - "Morashtenu" Organization

first Published  : 22/02/2012   Last Updated: 26/02/2012 

   

The Russian-speaking community, like other ethnic groups, has not become an integral component of Israeli society, due to various factors, both external and internal.  On the collective level, the community perceives itself as a minority discriminated against by the Israeli public on both the general and individual level.  It must be recognized that this feeling is at least partly justified.   In addition to the language barrier and the natural difficulties in the transition from one country to another, so characteristic of all immigrant communities, many members of the Russian-speaking community experience various forms of distress and discrimination.  About 30% of the Russian-speaking population in Israel encounter difficulties deriving from their extraction and religious factors.  They find themselves trapped between the Law of Return, which recognizes their right to immigrate to Israel and to receive Israeli citizenship, and the constraints of the Jewish religious laws (Halacha).  We can no longer stand aside and ignore these constant hardships, which demand an immediate solution in the fields of matrimony, burial, unification of families, and very often - even obtaining citizenship.  The process of conversion to Judaism is exclusively subject to the authority of the Orthodox religious establishment, which piles up difficulties and obstacles on the would-be converts road.

 

The destructive consequences - frustration and anger - felt by many of the Russian-speaking citizens against the political, economic and cultural elites in Israel are becoming more and more serious, since these feelings of frustration and anger are blatantly exploited by the Russian media in Israel, which are typically right-wing - populist oriented.  The owners and managers of the Russian media aim to keep the Russian-speaking community in a state of isolation and alienation vis-à-vis Israeli society, in order to deepen their personal influence over the community and to maneuver its electoral power for their own needs.   Thus, an unhealthy situation has developed, where the Russian-speaking citizens of Israel are exposed to fanatic propaganda, bordering on brain-washing.

 

The Russian media tend to describe the problems of the Arab minority in Israel methodically and tendentiously. Statements by interviewers, by experts invited to "Experts Programs", by commentators, and political and social activists abound with unjustified arguments and disparaging epithets.  The speakers present Israeli Arab citizens as an unruly mob, the majority of whom do not uphold the law, and are disloyal and even hostile to the State of Israel.  Mayors and MKs from Arab parties are painted mainly as extremists, inciters and agents of countries hostile to Israel.

 

The view-point of the Israeli Arabs is almost never given expression.   Statements concerning the Palestinians from the Territories, Arabs and Moslems are often tainted with a very disparaging and negative attitude.

 

The Russian-language media create dramatization both in the case of the African refugees, and of the illegal workers in Israel.  They paint the refugees from Africa with the darkest colors, presenting them as a population of criminals, rapists and bearers of AIDS and other terrible diseases, and often as agents of hostile forces and potential suicide bombers.  The Russian media has never offered the representatives of the refugeesthe human rights organizations, who deal with these problems, an opportunity to present their position.