Note (26/1/05): Two corrections have been made in italics to this post in response to Alexei’s comments below.
19 MPs – including members of the
pro-Putin opposition (oops) Rodina party – and 500 academics and public figures signed a letter this weekend calling for the government to close every single Jewish organisation in Russia. The amount of tired cliches and moronic ideas contained in the letter are too many to reprint in their entirety, but here’s just a sample:
[The Jewish religion is] anti-Christian and inhumane, which practices extend even to ritual murders [Jews are to blame for] illegal appropriation of state property
the whole democratic world today is under the financial and political control of international Jewry. And we do not want our Russia to be among such unfree countries.
Even more bizarrely, the letter was today retracted without explanation by the MPs, despite their denial that the letter was anti-semitic (!).
Compared with much of the rest of the world, anti-semitism is very strong in Russia, (it is home to more than half the world’s known neo-nazi’s, according to a recent report) so by calling for the banning of Jewish organisations, these MPs were obviously tapping into a deep well of public opinion.
But, ever the conspiracy theorist, this story immediately made me think of the recent Israel-Russia spat over the sale of missile sales to Syria. Israel was very vocal in its condemnation of Russia, and I can’t help but wonder if maybe some bright spark in the Kremlin – or one of the many semi-independent agencies that are involved in the arms trade – thought this would be a good way to rap Israel over the knuckles.