Ebrahim Moosa – Radio Islam – Analysis | 07 November 2016
Here’s news for all those armchair activists riling at American hegemony who have taken the Russian strongman Vladimir Putin to be the globe’s saviour: Putin is a good friend of Zionist Israel.
In fact, not only is the former KGB officer currently cosying up to the Apartheid State for reasons of realpolitik, but has also expressed admiration for the ruthless Israeli manner of crushing Palestinian resistance, and voiced support for major Israeli state terrorism campaigns.
The latest of these vile endorsements from the Russian leader came barely two weeks ago at a symposium in Moscow.
In an address to the Valdai International Discussion Club, the Russian leader offered a critique of American foreign policy, particularly with regards to the Middle East and the spread of groups like ISIS.
“We keep hearing Aleppo, Aleppo, Aleppo,” he said, referring to outrage over the Russian-sponsored carnage in the northern Syrian city. “But what is the issue here? Do we leave the nest of terrorists in place there, or do we squeeze them out, doing our best to minimize and avoid civilian casualties?”
“If it is better to not go in at all, then the offensive against Mosul shouldn’t go ahead at all either. Let’s just leave everything as it is. Let’s leave Raqqa alone too. Our partners keep saying, “We need to take back Raqqa and eliminate the nest of terrorists there”. But there are civilians in Raqqa too. So, should we not fight the terrorists at all? And when they take hostages in towns, should we just leave them be?”
Instead, Putin mused, the US should take note of Israel’s approach towards terrorism.
“Look at Israel’s example. Israel never steps back but always fights to the end, and this is how it survives. There is no alternative. We need to fight. If we keep retreating, we will always lose.”
These sentiments should come as no surprise emanating from a man whose rise to the Kremlin came on the back of a series of highly suspicious apartment bombings in Moscow that were blamed on Chechens, and whose subsequent rule was characterised by indiscriminate bloodletting in the Caucasus.
In 2014 Putin was one of the few world leaders to explicitly support Israel’s Operation Protective Edge against Palestinians in Gaza, saying “I support Israel’s battle that is intended to keep its citizens protected.”
That onslaught left more than 2000 Palestinians dead and rendered 108 000 of Gaza’s 1.8 million residents homeless.
As Reuters’ Josh Cohen notes, with the emergence of Putin, Israel found the closest thing to a friend it’s ever had in Moscow. In 2005, Putin became the first Russian president to ever visit Israel, visiting the Western Wall of Masjid al Aqsa as well as Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, where Putin observed a moment of silence. The Russian president even reportedly purchased an apartment in Tel Aviv for his then-84-year-old Jewish German teacher. Putin returned to Israel in 2012 as the guest of honour at a state dinner and to inaugurate a monument to the Red Army soldiers who defeated Hitler in World War Two.
For his part, in communicating Israeli appreciation, Netanyahu has reciprocated with a rare fervour.
According to Israeli security and intelligence commentator Yossi Melman, since August 2015, Netanyahu has travelled to Moscow four times for meetings with Putin, more than he has had with any other world leader. For comparison, during the same period, Netanyahu met with the president of Israel’s biggest bankroller, the USA, just once.
Observes Melman, in one of the meetings, Putin showed his gratitude through a highly unusual gesture for a leader of his stature. He went with the Israeli prime minister and his wife Sarah to a ballet performance at the Bolshoi Theatre. Putin also afforded Netanyahu a personally guided tour of the Kremlin, meticulously explaining to him the history of its various halls.
Apart from meetings, Melman estimates that Netanyahu has called Putin at least 10 times to brief, consult and exchange intelligence estimates. He suggests that there probably were more phone conversations than even those the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office have announced. The most recent officially reported phone conversation between the two was at the end of October.
Writing in Israeli daily Haaretz on the first day of Netanyahu’s June trip to Moscow, journalist Barak Ravid noted: “It wouldn’t be exaggerating to say that the ties between Israel and Russia have never been better. It’s a fact. The volume of trade and tourism, as well as security and diplomatic cooperation, are at their peak.”
Ostensibly, one key reason why Israeli-Russian relations have grown closer over in recent years is the entry of Russian forces into Syria’s civil war. The two countries established a mechanism for military coordination to prevent incidents between their air forces and navies, and talks on this issue regularly take place at the highest levels.
This rationale does hold weight, but as the foregoing evidence presents, for Putin and Netanyahu, the Israeli-Russian compact represents something deeper.
“Russia is a global power and our relations are getting closer,” Netanyahu announced at the onset of his Moscow visit earlier this year.
“Our relations are growing deeper,” Putin responded. “In the past quarter century, our relations have developed in a quick and constructive way”.
In spite of these public affirmations, many on the left continue to lionise Putin and view Russia as the magic bullet needed in restoring equilibrium in global politics and bringing peace to the Middle East.
Putin’s aforementioned alliance with Israel underscores all that is faulty with this calculus.
Russia, like the USA, is courting the same toxic bedfellow which lies at the core of much of the inferno in the Middle East, and it continues to champion ruthless military solutions as an answer to quests for freedom, justice and self determination.
This represents no radical overhaul to the exploitative global status quo.
To borrow from Evan Sandlin’s characterisation of leftists who are apologists for Assad crimes in Syria, in the LA Review of Books, the only way such myopia entrenches itself is if one adopts an outdated “Eastern bloc is good, Western bloc is bad” framework for analyzing international politics.
The inability to look outside the Cold War lens, he says, has led many leftists to be crude apologists for Assad’s crimes (read Russian crimes). As a consequence, they have begun to parrot the same tendencies they disparage Western jingoists for.
In light of Putin’s latest extolling of the ‘merits’ of Zionist terror, it’s time for all these cheerleaders of Russian hegemony to wake up and smell the vodka.