Yossi Klein Halevi recently wrote: Perhaps the most bitter moment of this bitter week was provided by Bill Clinton, precisely because he’s a friend "Clinton blamed the one million Israeli citizens who came from the former Soviet Union in the early 1990s. “You’ve had all these immigrants coming in from Soviet Union, and they have no history in Israel proper, so the traditional claims of the Palestinians have less weight with them.” "
What Bill Clinton doesn't understand about Israel is this is exactly what the purpose of Israel is all about. It was to be a place where Jews that had been persecuted could come and live, at the time of creation in 1948, now and in the future-G-d forbid that there will continue to be this need. Jews in Russia are just as Jewish as Jews in Israel or anywhere else. They had not been allowed to practice their religion under USSR dogma. Many were put in jail for doing so. Synagogues were closed.
I met many Russian Jews ins Israel when I made aliyah in 1980. I was in a teaching program with them to teach English, of all things. They had been teaching English in Russia. We went through a 10 month training program together to learn Hebrew and teaching skills for Hebrew speakers to learn English. My Hebrew teacher was a very famous lady who not only was the author of the two books we used but had been corresponding with Russians secretly and teaching them Hebrew through the mails. They were intent to learn Hebrew well and the political facts going on in Israel. Russians embarrassed me and other Americans by learning Hebrew so much faster than we were. Studying languages was something they all did in Russia whereas we are English centered and many do not learn other languages. They knew exactly what to do to study. Their English was usually lousy, but they certainly could pick up languages easily.
There were programs for them to learn about their Jewish religion. I remember Passover there. We were in a very large dining room. Russians were given the Hagadah in Russian and Hebrew. Truly, it was the return of exiles to Israel as having been prophesized. I guess the Clintons hadn't heard about this.
My own ancestry is that my father's parents were born in Lithuania. Grandfather was from Telsiai and Grandmother was from Lazdijai, Suwalki. We have distant ancestors who were related to the Vilna Gaon, a very famous Rabbi in Lithuania. This was part of the Pale of Settlement, a section of Russia where Jews were forced to live. You had to have a special pass of importance to enter the mainland of Russia.
Russian Jews were involved in the First Aliyote to "Palestine" in the 1800's and before that in 1808. There are many Russian Jews who carry the J1 dna haplogroup showing that they are from the Cohen line of Aaron and Moses, and are Cohens, first to be called to the bimah to read from the Torah. In fact, I just helped a relative of a cousin check on his dna who was a Cohen but not by surname. He turned out to be a J1, just as I predicted. His family came from the Ukraine, another place in the Pale of Settlement.
Hillary, Bill's wife, is adamant about not recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, which to Israelis, it is. Jerusalem as been in our religion since King David made it his capital. There is nothing about Jerusalem that says it is a part of importance in Arab history other than they have built a Mosque over the site of the First and Second Temples of Jewish history-most likely on purpose. Arab empires have come and gone in Zion but have never been a country, only overseers. They just trampled over it and it became wasted. Because Mohammed happened to go to heaven on his white horse from Jerusalem is not enough reason to give away the whole eastern section as a capital for Abbas's Palestine.
We know now that Abbas has not been serious about making peace with Israel. The goal has always been the one stated in 1948, to drive Israel into the sea. They have ignored many chances to make peace and have their own Muslim state, but they won't recognize the already created Jewish one and plan to take it over by bringing in millions of Muslims. If Hamas started hammering Israel in the 1990's, this doesn't mean it's because of new Israeli immigrants, They weren't even the orthodox Jews who were living in Judea and Samaria. They settled in Tel Aviv. They were used to culture. This is what Israel is all about.
I think it's out of line to blame the Russian immigration to Israel for causing any political problems involving the Arabs. Good grief, those that were able to get out felt so lucky to do so. It had been a nearly impossible endeavor for many. I do wish that people in government, when dealing with foreign countries and are deeply involved in their existence would study in depth about the history of that country first before making such contrary statements. Not only does it show their level of stupidity to many of us, but shows they are not really capable of making serious decisions.
Bill Clinton went on to mention the "traditional claims of the Palestinians". I'd like to know what those are. Hamas and Fatah have been so busy trying to destroy any Jewish connection to Jerusalem and the land and ingraining their shaky connections that this traditional claim depends so much on the source of the claim. As Reed College in Portland, Oregon has aways taught, "what's your source?" I would like to see the Clintons take a class that Netanyahu would validate to learn some real Jewish history. I would even suggest using some of Abba Eban's work. Has Bill ever read Joan Peters "From Time Immemorial" ? She's not even Jewish. That is a must.
http://www.tnr.com/article/world/95356/un-general-assembly-obama-clinton-abbas-netanyahu-israel-palestine by Yossi Klein Halevi