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European countries should study Russia’s experience of keeping anti-Semitism at bay

October 02, 2014, 17:32 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila
© ITAR-TASS/Alexey Filippov

MOSCOW, October 2. /TASS/. When it comes to fighting anti-Semitism in earnest, it suddenly turns out that Russia has a wealth of experience to share with Europe, Russian experts say. For instance, there is no such thing in Russia as Islamic anti-Semitism, while in Europe this ill is thriving.

Russia has an impressive record of resisting manifestations of anti-Semitism, and Europe should study it thoroughly and make use of it, the president of the Russian Jewish Congress, Yury Kenner, told the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) Human Dimension Implementation Meeting 2014 in Warsaw on Tuesday.

“We do not have the slightest traces of what is present in the West — we have no Islamic anti-Semitism, although Russia’s Muslim community numbers 20 million, and although the largest Jewish communities are found in Muslim regions of the country,” Kanner said. He briefed the audience in detail on how the degree of anti-Semitism was going down in Russia over many years and what was done to that end. As a result, Russia today is a country where the degree of anti-Semitic sentiment is one of the lowest in the whole world.

Russian President Vladimir Putin in November 2012 acknowledged that grassroots anti-Semitism in Russia still existed in Russia to some extent. “At the state level there is none, of course, but at the grassroots level its manifestations still can be seen,” Putin said at a meeting with Russia’s chief rabbi, Berl Lazar.

For his part, Lazar said then that the rate of anti-Semitic incidents in the country had dwindled considerably and Russia’s Jews were feeling themselves quite comfortable and at home.

The state has carried out a great amount of work to promote public awareness of the principles of internationalism, the director of the Center of Theoretic and Applied Politology at the Russian Academy of Economics and Civil Service, Vladimir Malakhov told TASS. In his opinion, there is one more reason why anti-Semitism kept easing over the years. “Our xenophobia has shifted from Jews to Caucasus-born migrants. Largely because Jews are as a rule well-integrated in society, while xenophobia usually targets poorly integrated persons,” he said.

The attitude of Russia’s Muslims to Jews is very different from that in the European countries, the expert said. “Our Muslims are part of the indigenous population, while in the West they are mostly migrants from problem countries that take a certain attitude to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Very often protests in the West against Israel’s foreign policy are erroneously attributed to anti-Semitism.”

“There is a great deal that Europe can borrow from Russia in this respect,” the president of the Middle East Institute, Yevgeny Satanovsky, agrees. “In Russia anti-Semitism, hard racism and xenophobia are punishable by law,” he said. If the local officials turn a blind eye on these, they are instantly called to order.

As Satanovsky told TASS in an interview, anti-Semitism does exist in Russia, but in the country “there are no multi-million communities from the Middle East sharing medieval mentality.”

“Russia’s Muslims have coexisted with Jews, Christians, Buddhists and atheists for hundreds of years. There is no wholesale, fanatic anti-Semitism resembling the one that exists in Pakistan, or in the Arab world or in the Islamic community in Europe, although jihadists were trying to export it to Russia lately,” he said.


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