Friday, April 20, 2007

Anti-Semitism by Russian Jews in Israel

Jewish Telegraph:

SWISS student Ari Ackerman was walking home after a night swim on Tel Aviv beach when he and a friend were jumped by a gang singing Nazi songs and displaying swastika tattoos.

The perpetrators, a group of Russian-speaking teenagers, eventually ran off.

Ari and his friend - their faces bruised and bloodied - set off to the closest police station, only to have their case shrugged off.

"Israel faces the same problems as any other country," Ari said, trying to make sense of what he experienced.

"There is a phenomenon of neo-Nazism, even if it is fringe, but to acknowledge it is to go against the country's own narrative."

In recent years, sporadic acts of antisemitism have hit Israel, most of them carried out by disaffected immigrant youths from the former Soviet Union.

Although they came to Israel under the Law of Return, they are among those who identify not as Jews but as ethnic Russians.

Under the Law of Return, anyone with a Jewish parent or grandparent is permitted to immigrate and be granted citizenship.

Experts say the perpetrators of such acts feel rebuffed and marginalised by Israeli society, so they turn their furore into the same antisemitism with which they may have been tormented in their countries of birth.

Recent incidents occurred at a school in the Tel Aviv suburb of Bat Yam, where its mezzuzot were torn down and burned.

Three months ago, a club for Russian-speaking immigrant veterans of World War Two was desecrated with a swathe of swastikas.

Zalman Gilichinsky, who emigrated to Israel from Moldova, started a centre for victims of antisemitic attacks or harassment.

"Neo-Nazism is the same development they see in Russia and they transplant it here," he said.

Arieh Turkiments, an immigrant from Vilna, is among those who contacted Zalman's organisation after he was slapped in the face by another immigrant and cursed for being a Jew.

He was standing outside a Jerusalem yeshiva, where he had been attending classes on Judaism.

"It is a terrible feeling in the Land of Israel that we have to hear such insults," said his wife Maria. "Sometimes I think it is worse being in Israel than in the Diaspora."

(Russian) Israelis run anti-Jewish Web sites

The Rise in Israeli Anti-Semitism

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