On two chairs

 On two chairs

While the whole world is wondering whether there will be a war between Russia and Ukraine or everything that is happening – only an act of intimidation on the part of Moscow, in Israel these events are being watched with particular concern. Yes, they take place far from our borders and do not directly affect the interests of the Jewish state, but this is only at first glance.

In fact, Israel is trying to sit on two chairs in this conflict, but as a result it may turn out between two fires.
We are perhaps the only state that maintains partnerships with both warring countries. True, it is not difficult to be friends with Ukraine – this country is glad to have any friends (however, like us). It was much more difficult to tame the “Russian bear” in order to secure “open skies” for oneself. in Syria and some containment of Iranian expansion. With the withdrawal of Western countries from the region and the strengthening of the role of Moscow, this cooperation becomes more and more important for Israel. In recent years, we have often had to ignore the controversial policies of the Russian leadership and pretend that they do not concern us. Like, our relations are built on an unshakable, non-political community: the role of the Soviet army in saving the Jews, hundreds of thousands of Israelis with dual citizenship, culture, business…

Alas, as Russia clashes with different countries, it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain this good face in a bad game. Today Moscow opposes itself to the Western world in everything, including ideology and spiritual values. In both cases, Israel is much closer to the West than to the Kremlin's ideologues, but we have to turn a blind eye to this as well. However, our leaders do not hide the fact that they put the interests of the Jewish state above all else, even above humanism and justice. That is why we do not recognize the Armenian genocide, so as not to irritate Turkey, and the Holodomor – not to quarrel with Russia. Ukraine – not so important ally, despite its territory, vast diaspora and the number of potential olims in this country. So in the duel “Russia vs Ukraine” our choice would be unequivocal, regardless of who is right and who is wrong here. It is a pity for Ukraine, it is an innocent victim, but ties with Moscow – guarantee of our security.

For the rest of the world, Ukraine as such is also of little interest. The brewing military conflict with Russia only gives the West a reason to limit the expansion of the Kremlin, its attempts to influence foreign policies and corrupt different governments, in a word – put Putin in his place. This is where the main danger for Israel lies. By continuing to support or at least not condemn his ally in the Kremlin, in the eyes of the international community he finds himself in the same camp – camp of aggressors and occupiers of foreign territory. Is it any wonder that we are immediately reminded of our “occupation and aggression”?

At the head of the anti-Russian camp is America and personally President Biden, with whom Israel already has not the warmest relations. Biden has his own problems – he is afraid of appearing as a weak and indecisive politician, as presented by his opponents. That is why he is so persistently gathering an anti-Russian coalition around the world and threatening Moscow with unprecedented sanctions. It is unlikely that the US and Europe will intervene in the military conflict itself, so for Biden and his supporters, the main – hard and consistent pressure on the Kremlin by political, economic and diplomatic means. Of course, he does not like the fact that the best friend of the United States – Israel – withdraws from this struggle and continues to maintain relations with Russia and Putin as if nothing had happened.

Thus, we are talking about a choice between our historical ally and main strategic partner on the one hand, and a partner that is vital in the current situation, – with another. None of them can be quarreled with, none can be clearly shown sympathy. Moreover – even Israel's attempts to remain neutral can turn both camps against it. As a result, we risk losing Putin's favor and, as a result, getting into trouble when attacking pro-Iranian forces in Syria and Lebanon. At the same time, relations with Biden and the entire democratic government, which is not particularly disposed towards Israel, will deteriorate. In a word, our leaders face a very difficult task: not to say or do anything superfluous and at the same time not show their indifference to what is happening.

Of course, Israeli politicians are no strangers to maneuvering and getting out of difficult situations. But one thing – to fool your people, and quite another – convince the governments of the major powers of their sincerity. And yet Israel can succeed on this path and even receive certain dividends. For example, inviting Putin and Zelensky to talks in Jerusalem looked like an extremely effective, albeit useless, gesture, because it is obvious that Putin does not want to negotiate with anyone. Aliyah from Ukraine in case of war will grow, which is also to the benefit of the Jewish state, and the supply of our gas to Europe instead of Russian will bring considerable profit.
Another thing is how good it is to benefit from someone else's misfortune, especially for Jews gave humanity morality. But politics in general is far from morality. This has always happened with everyone, but our state from the very beginning emphasized its adherence to high moral Jewish values, and this supported its people in the most difficult moments. Over time, we become more and more like others – We choose what is best for us. In this case, we need to maintain a strategic relationship with Russia as a leading player in the Middle East and not disappoint the US, on which we also depend. Sit on these two chairs – Israel's main task in this conflict.

But what about Ukraine? Ukraine today serves as a bargaining chip in the struggle between Russia and the West, and there is no reason why we should perceive it differently. We have too many of our own problems to solve other people's problems at the expense of ourselves.

Author: Irina Petrova

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