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The Oldest Hatred
Anti-Semitism Rises in Russia as Putin Stokes Nationalistic Fervor

Anti-Semitism is on the rise in Putin’s Russia, writes Victor Davidoff in the Moscow Times. The article introduces us to one Ulyana Skoibeda, a controversial nationalist whose articles attacking Jews and Judaism are now carried in one of Russia’s most popular newspapers, Komsomolskaya Pravda. But she’s not alone, as Davidoff makes clear in his account of the broader political situation in the country:

Since President Vladimir Putin first came to power, Russia has become a field where the threatening weeds of xenophobia and nationalism grow rampant. In Moscow, thousands have marched in nationalist demonstrations and taken part in riots. Crimes motivated by nationalism are so common that they are barely worth mentioning on the local crime news. Following the dark logic of European nationalism, whomever Russian nationalists start with as their enemy — migrant workers or African soccer players — sooner or later they get to the Jews. […]

Anti-Semitism always flares up in Russia whenever the political situation heats up. Today’s patriots, like the monarchists a century ago, can’t help but notice that there are several Jews among the opposition leaders. They also can’t resist the chance to portray the entire opposition as secret agents of “Jewish capital.”

This kind of scapegoating and nasty tribal hatred is a predictable consequence to the nationalist passions Putin has stoked in his country. Both in his foreign policy regarding Ukraine and Georgia and his domestic legislation, Putin has made a point of stressing Russia’s difference from the West and its unique ethnic heritage. In a country with a history of anti-Semitism, this strategy was bound to revive the oldest hatred.

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  • Dan

    the article you link to is from May 2013…

  • FriendlyGoat

    Pop Quiz for Russians: Which of these poses the greatest risk to Russia?
    A) Jews
    B) Gays
    C) Western Europeans
    D) Americans
    E) Islamists
    F) Vladimir

    • Fred

      I’d say E) and F).

      • FriendlyGoat

        Me too, but I was being satirical in posing it as a quiz.

  • Anthony

    “A part of an individual’s personal identity is melded with the identity of the groups that he or she affiliates with. Each group occupies a slot in their minds that is very much like the slot occupied by an individual person, complete with beliefs, desires, and praiseworthy or blameworthy traits. This social identity appears to be an adaptation to the reality of groups in the welfare of individuals. Our fitness depends not just on our own fortunes but on the fortunes of the bands, villages, and tribes we find ourselves in, which are bound together by real or fictive kinship, networks of reciprocity, and a commitment to public goods, including group defense…On behalf of our group, we can feel sympathetic, grateful, angry, guilty, trustful, or mistrustful with regard to some other group, and we spread these emotions over the members of that group regardless of what they have done as individuals to deserve them.” Thus, anti-semitism and out group antagonism activate (psychologists label it the motive for social dominance or intuitively “tribalism”).

    • FriendlyGoat

      Thank you for explaining certain American folks’ super-glued attachments to sports teams, church denominations, racial likeness, sexual-orientation likeness, alma maters, various clubs, specific military branches, Facebook/Linked In circles and—–importantly these days—self-definition as liberal or conservative.

      We do not have to join up, however, when asked to hate people.

      • Anthony

        You’re more than welcome.

  • Felix Keverich

    lol There are more than enough Jews among opposition leaders in Russia. Basically, the entire liberal movement is ethnically Jewish.

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